animals · slice of life

Puppy Wash

I Puppy was excited about his day in Kindergarten.

I was an early adopter of carrying a bottle of Purell in my purse. It was 1997, and I was commuting around Manhattan on mass transit for a summer internship. At the time, my father thought I was a germaphobe (though there was no name for it). I defended myself by saying (something like), “Do you ever wonder how many people touched the handlebar on the bus before you?”

Given this information, it shouldn’t surprise you that I directed Ari to “Choose a stuffy who can go into the washing machine” when I learned his school was hosting a bring-a-stuff-and-wear-pajamas-to-school day.

Many of Ari’s favorite stuffies are only able to be spot cleaned. I don’t know what would happen if I threw them in the wash, nor do I want to find out. Instead, he’d need to select a safe puppy to go in the washer.

Ari selected A Puppy. I asked him to reconsider and take I Puppy, who had to stand in for A Puppy long ago when we accidentally left A Puppy (formerly known as Muttsy) at my in-laws’ house. Ari agreed to take I Puppy to school because he’d get a puppy wash when he arrived home.

I Puppy had a great day at school, though he complained of not doing much. Not knowing if that meant he sat on a desk or in Ari’s cubby all day, Ari and I marched I Puppy up to the laundry room after he returned from school. Ari placed him in a mesh bag. We grabbed Patchy for good measure, and the two went in for a bath.

Ari slipped I Puppy into a mesh bag for safety.

I headed upstairs a few minutes ago to remove them from their mesh bags and put them in the dryer. I hope they’ll be ready to reassume their posts on Ari’s bed in a couple of hours.

Selfie with Patchy and I Puppy before their dry cycle.
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animals · food · slice of life

Extra Eggs

Whisking the wet ingredients.

This morning, I took three eggs out of the carton to get them to room temperature about an hour before we baked.

Ari and I made the dough for our Friday night challah this morning. One of his stuffies, Barkey Tucker, helped us.

Everything was going along fine until it was time for me to clean up. That’s when I noticed three eggs sitting on a spoon rest. Two egg yolks and one egg are used in the challah. How did these eggs get there? How were they still on the counter if I had the cracked shells in my hand?

I had gone down to the basement to grab a challah mix. Perhaps Ari entered the fridge and took out three new ones instead of one additional egg for the egg wash. But when I asked him, this is what transpired:

Where on earth did these new eggs come from?

I felt the eggs on the spoon rest when I put them back in the carton. They were warmer than the eggs in the carton.

After Ari’s (and Barkey Tucker’s) denial, I wondered aloud, “Could it be that there were nine eggs in the carton this morning, I laid out three before we ate breakfast, forgot about them, and added three new eggs from the fridge? Do you think I forgot about the eggs I had placed on the counter?”

“Maybe…” Ari replied.

“And you promise you didn’t put the extra three eggs on the spoon rest?

Ari said, “I promise.”

“I need more coffee,” I replied with a chuckle.

Raisin Challah
Challah is supposed to be braided. Since I make gluten-free challah, I use a silicone mold to shape the dough since it’s sticky. This is our finished raisin challah for Shabbat.
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animals · slice of life · writing

New Title: Fish & Dasher

Last night, Ari told me he finished his book about Fish. In reality, he added two more pages with no substance.

“I understand that you want to finish your book so you can share it in school tomorrow, but there’s much more you can do with it.”

We talked about the way Fish wrestles with Dasher, his Poodle brother. We discussed infusing some setting details into the book since Skagway is now blanketed in snow, not green grass. I reminded Ari that he could spend more time on his illustrations.

This morning, Ari woke up early and got to work on his book again. By the time I came downstairs for breakfast, he had restapled the book. This was the finished product:

Written and read by Ari.

NOW the book was ready to go to school! But first, I scanned it so we could send it to the folks in Alaska later today.

If you need a dose of spelling-related cuteness, here’s some work Ari did with the book’s revised title:

Also, you’ll hear me carrying on a separate conversation with Isabelle.

What’s next? Ari plans to write a book about Murray and Jake, two other pups from the Mo Mountain Mutts videos. I’m unsure if it’ll be another nonfiction text or if he plans to write a story this time. Time will tell…

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animals · slice of life · writing

A Dog Named Fish

Which one is worse?

  1. Watching videos of dogs rather than reading a book to your child before bedtime for nearly a week.
  2. Nearly being late for school drop-off because your child was busy writing.

No real need to ponder which one is worse. I am guilty of both.

After reading about an Alaska-based dog walking service with a puppy bus and pack walks in The Washington Post in January, I became addicted to Mo Mountain Mutts’ Instagram and YouTube page. Each weeknight, I’d lie in bed and watch videos of the dogs taking hikes and eating treats on their bus.

One night in January, Ari came into my room and found me watching “puppy videos.” I let him watch a couple before returning to bed. I could tell he was HOOKED. Initially, we watched them together in the mornings before I would drive him to school, but as of last week, we’ve begun to forgo his nightly story and watch these videos instead. (Yes, I’m a certified literacy specialist. No, I won’t let this continue much longer since it’s bad sleep hygiene. Yes, I read with Ari in the morning or after school.)

Ari sitting at his desk holding a pencil in one hand and using his other hand to help with finger spacing.

Ari and I adore many dogs, but our favorites are Poodle brothers, Fish and Dasher. (I don’t think they reside together since they board the puppy bus at different times.) We noticed Fish was not on the Mo Mountain Mutts’ Instagram stories for weeks. But one day, not long ago, I saw that Fish had returned. I showed Ari. He rejoiced as if his long long-lost pup had come home.

Ari was chatting with me about the Mo Mountain Mutts puppy bus at breakfast this morning. He was wondering what Fish would do today. I said, “You know, you could write a story about Fish. Then, you could decide what he does.”

SAY. NO. MORE. Ari finished his breakfast, asked me to spell a few words for him on a sticky note, and then zipped up to his room to begin writing a story. By 8:25 AM, he had two pages completed! And while it reads more like nonfiction than fiction now, he is excited to write about Fish!

We lost track of time, so I got Ari to school less than five minutes before the school day began. On the car ride over, I talked to Ari about the audience. He initially thought he’d want to put his finished book in the classroom library. I told him that we could try to think bigger. “Perhaps we can scan the book and send it to Mo of Mo Mountain Mutts. Then, she could give it to Fish’s owner.”

“Yeah, I like that idea,” Ari replied. “But how will you scan it for her?”

“There’s an app for that. Don’t worry. I’ve got you covered. You write it, and we’ll send it out together once it’s done.”

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animals · bedtime stories · slice of life

Stealthy Videos

Meet Rhodes. (Yes, he’s the newest addition to Ari’s burgeoning stuffie collection.) Apparently, he’s interested in learning about Russia. (We’ve been reading books about countries at bedtime. Not my preferred reading, but this is what happens when you give your kids choice… they choose what they want you to read to them!)

Ari expelled maniacal laughter after I shut the door behind Isabelle.

“I got a video of you,” he said.

Why was that funny? Well, it wasn’t because it took Isabelle forever to walk down our driveway with her backpack and science project. No, no. It’s because Ari caught my hurry-up-so-the-driver-doesn’t-leave message along with an extra long shot of my tush after I shut the door behind Isabelle. Yes, he’s a six-year-old boy, alright!

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that Ari grabbed my phone without me realizing it AGAIN this evening while I was reading to him. I knew he was pretending to listen to the book as if he were his stuffed dog, Rhodes. What I didn’t realize is that Ari was videotaping me reading to him.

If this keeps up, I’ll have to remove the camera icon from my iPhone’s lock screen!

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activities of daily living · animals · slice of life

No Bears in the Bathroom!

I have a couple of “rules” about what goes into our bathrooms. I think they make a ton of sense and I don’t think anyone my kids should question them. They are:

  • Do not bring any food, drinks, or anything from the kitchen (e.g., aprons) into the bathroom.
  • Do not bring stuffed animals into the bathroom.

I feel like both of these rules are obvious and don’t need to be explained to anyone over the age of 14. My children, on the other hand, have heard my rationale — especially about the second one — many times.

BOTTOM LINE: Rubber ducks are for the bathroom. Stuffies, which lay on beds and couches, are not.

This morning, Ari did NOT want to brush his teeth. Or make his bed. Or eat his breakfast. (In all fairness, 3/4 of us had the flu last week and even though we’re better, none of us are ourselves yet.) I did not want to fight with him since I am not back to normal yet.

I grabbed Quincy, deepened my voice, and said, “Let’s go to the bathroom and brush our teeth, Ari.”

Ari didn’t move.

I tried again, “Let’s go, Ari. Let’s brush our teeth together.”

Still no movement.

“C’mon! I’m going to the bathroom now. Aren’t you coming?” Quincy asked.

With that, I held Quincy by his shoulders and helped him amble into the bathroom.

Pleasefollowpleasefollowpleasefollow, I thought.

“He’s going in the bathroom?!” Ari questioned.

“Yes, I told you that I need to brush my teeth,” Quincy replied.

Seconds later the pitter patter of little feet followed. Ari plopped down on the floor, took out a spare toothbrush, and began brushing Quincy’s teeth. Fortunately, Ari brushed his teeth once Quincy was finished!

While I was thrilled I didn’t have to raise my voice to get Ari to brush his teeth, a little piece of me died since Quincy was on the bathroom floor. I know my kids’ bathroom isn’t anywhere near as gross as a public restroom, but there’s something that didn’t sit well with me about it all day.

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animals · bedtime stories · meditation · slice of life

Guess Who?

After we finished reading Mighty, Mighty Construction Site, I shut the light, and we meditated using the Headspace app. While guided meditation used to help Ari fall asleep, he’s gotten sillier during the wind-down exercises each night. Sometimes I notice his eyes are open while other nights I notice he isn’t laying on his back like the instructor suggests. Lately, Ari has been having one of his stuffies, Oreo (who really didn’t need to come to live with us — just sayin’.), sigh during the meditation. This evening, all three of those things happened.

Once the meditation finished, I said, “I’m going to ask you a question and I want you an honest answer. My feelings will not be hurt, no matter what you say. Okay? Will you be honest?”

“Yes,” Ari said peering back at me in the dim darkness.

“I’ve noticed you seem less focused during the guided meditations. Would you like to keep doing them or would you rather have extra snuggle time with Mommy?”

“Extra snuggle time,” he answered immediately.

“Really?” I asked since that wasn’t what I expected to hear.

“Really,” he replied. After a beat, Ari shoved one of his stuffies up to my face. “Guess who!” he said.

It was pretty dark. I couldn’t see whose nose was rubbing mine.

“Well, the nose is soft so it’s an animal from Team Soft Guy.” (Ari recently divided his animals into Team Hard Guy and Team Soft Guy to describe their noses.)

“Guess who it is!” Ari said stroking the animal’s fur against my face.

“Percy?” I asked.

“That’s right!”

This continued about three more times until I said, “How about I try two out on you and then we say good night.”

“No, ten!”

“We’re not doing this ten more times. It’s past your bedtime,” I replied.

Ari giggled as Barnsie went nose-to-nose with him.

“My bedtime is 9 p.m.”

“No, your bedtime is 8:30 p.m. and it’s 8:38 p.m. Three more and that’s it.”

“How about five more?”

“Three more. Final offer,” I said.

Ari quickly learned that it was hard to determine who was nuzzling his nose with his eyes closed! (Perhaps if he didn’t have 15 stuffies in his bed this would be easier, but that wasn’t the case.) He figured out one of the three… and then it was time for sleep.

Starting tomorrow night, we will take a break from Headspace after storytime. However, I have a feeling some version of this game will show up once we turn off the overhead light.

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animals · slice of life

Stuffie Strife

PLAN: Buy Ari a pair of lace-up sneakers so he can learn to tie shoes before Kindergarten.

WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED: A showdown by the stuffed animal display.

Of course, the stuffed animals came into view before the shoes once we stepped off of the escalator. Ari made a beeline to them. He immediately found a stuffed Scottie dog he wanted to buy.

After being bamboozled into letting Ari buy another stuffed puppy — with his allowance money — in April, I was NOT going to let that happen.

“We are not buying any stuffed animals today,” I said firmly.

“But he’s so cute. He’s soft. He’s cuddly. I’m gonna buy him.” Ari stated.

“No, you’re not. We are not going home with any new stuffed animals today.”

“I think he has a brother up there,” Ari said completely ignoring me while trying to reach the top shelf.

I feared Ari was going to topple the entire display of animals so I grabbed one of the dogs for him.

And then there were two.

Ari nuzzled the second Scottie dog to his face.

“Try not to put your face on them since we aren’t going to be buying them.”

“I’m going to buy them both and take them home!”

I looked at the price tag. “They’re each $27.50 plus tax. You don’t have that kind of money.”

“Yes, I do.”

“No, you don’t. And even if you did, I told you that you aren’t going to use any of your allowance money until we take our summer vacation.”

Ari ignored me. “Look, there’s another one!”

I must not have been thinking clearly when I took the third Scottie dog down from the display. Ari snuggled all three to his chest.

“Maybe I’ll get all three of them!” Ari said.

“You’re not listening to me. We. Are. Not. Buying. Any. New. Stuffies. Today. Do you understand?”

“Yeah, but — “

I cut him off, “We aren’t taking any of these Scottie dogs home. Nor are we taking the two more that are up there.”

“There are two more?!”

“Yes, there are two more.”

“I want to see them,” Ari demanded.

“Even if you see them, hold them, and snuggle them up, they are not leaving the store.”

“I’m gonna buy them,” Ari retorted.

“With what money. Your cash is at home.”

I had him there. I handed over the final two Scottie dogs with a stern look, which was quite opposite from the look of love in his eyes as he held all five of them. That’s when I had two distinct thoughts: #1) I’m not going to let him wear me down. #2) I just need to buy this kid some sneakers.

A salesperson walked by as Ari snuggled the five puppies. “Can I help you?”

“Nope, we’re all set. We’re heading over to the shoe department in a minute.” Dear G-d, I thought, if this man tries to convince me to buy even one of these dogs for Ari I’m gonna lose my mind.

“Okay,” he replied. “I’ll be at the register if you need anything.”

Thank the Lord!

I turned back to Ari. “You don’t have any money on you. I’m not going to buy them for you. They’re all staying here. Maybe you can get one the next time we are here, but you are NOT buying one of these Munro Scottie dogs today, even if they’re cute. I love you very much, Ari, but I cannot allow you to buy another stuffed animal today. I said no. No means no.”

I finished my soliloquy. Ari said goodbye to each of the dogs and promised he’d come back for at least one of them. I took a deep breath as I placed every single pup back on the display’s highest shelf so we could go to the shoe department. So, basically, I traded one frustrating situation for another.

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animals · bookstore · slice of life

How did we get another puppy?!!?

“I’m gonna buy the first Elephant & Piggie Treasury when we go to Barnes and Noble,” Ari declared.

We litigated this — yesterday. Why was this even being discussed again!?

I looked at my sweet son and said, firmly, “As I said yesterday, Isabelle has every single Elephant & Piggie book waiting to be given to you as soon as you’re ready for them. You don’t need to buy the first treasury — even if we have the second, third, and fourth treasuries — because we own all of the books that are in it.”

Exhibit A: All of the Elephant & Piggie Books (plus a few extras) are organized in Isabelle’s closet just waiting to be turn-keyed to Ari.

“I want it,” Ari declared.

“But you don’t need it,” I reminded.

“Fine,” Ari whined. “I’ll get something else.”

By something else, I thought Art meant a book. As long as it wasn’t a book he owned, I was determined to say yes. After all, he brought his “spending” envelope of money. (He has a “savings” envelope, which he left at home.)

Suddenly, I heard Ari squeal from a nearby display in the middle of the children’s section. Then, I heard cutesy voices — Ari’s and that of a stuffie he was impersonating — nearby. I rounded the display and saw Ari nuzzling a stuffed Yorkie.

“Oh, he’s so cute. I’m going to buy him and take him home with me.”

“Don’t you have enough stuffed animals?” I asked.

“But I want another puppy,” Ari said snuggling the Yorkie close to him.

“I understand that. But you don’t need another puppy,” I reminded.

That’s when Ari gave me his puppy dog eyes. I remembered saying “no” to the E&P Treasury before we drove to Barnes and Noble.

“Fine,” I said, knowing I was beaten. “If that’s what you want to spend your money on, that’s your choice.”

“It is!” Ari declared.

“Do you know what his name is going to be?” I asked. I mean, I might as well get to know who’d be coming home with us.

“I don’t know…” Ari began.

“Is it a boy or a girl puppy?” I asked.

“Boy,” Ari replied with certainty.

“He needs a good boy name. Not a name like Puppy, Patchy, or Fluffy.”

Leif (📷 taken by Ari)

“How about Leaf?” Ari said.

“Leaf? Leaf isn’t a name.”

“I’m going to call him Leaf,” Ari replied.

Something brought me back to the late 80s when we studied Norse mythology in middle school. “Leif Erickson was the name of a famous explorer. His first name was spelled L-E-I-F. So maybe this puppy spells his name like that.” Was Leif Erickson even a good guy? What was I thinking!?!?!

Ari looked the Yorkie in the eyes and said, “That’s it. I’m going to call you Leif. And you’re coming home with us today. And Mommy’s going to take your tags off. And you’re going to…”

Ari continued and all I could think was that I must have lost my mind for allowing Ari to buy another stuffie (who — we’ve already told Isabelle — is most certainly real).

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animals · slice of life · technology

Making a Call with Siri

Ari: Siri, Call Fluffy.

Ari (as Siri): Calling Fluffy, home.

(Ari makes ringing noises.)

“Fluffy” (Really Ari, but using a high-pitched puppy voice.): Hello?

Ari: Hi, Fluffy. It’s Ari.

“Fluffy”: Hello! When are you coming home?

Ari: We have 17 miles and four minutes until we get home.

Mommy: That’s 1.7 miles, buddy.

“Fluffy”: Oh, good. See you soon.

Call #1

This is not the first time that Ari has called Fluffy, his newest stuffy (Courtesy of Lynne and Ralph who have bought some incredible stuffies for my kids through the years.), from the car. The calls began about a week ago. At first, I thought it was fleeting… something he’d said because I often use Siri to make a phone call. However, it’s becoming a regular thing for him.

Ari: I forgot to tell Fluffy something. Siri, call Fluffy again.

“Siri”: Calling Fluffy, home.


“Fluffy”: Heh-looooo!

Ari: Hi, Fluffy. It’s me, Ari, again.

“Fluffy”: Where are you?

Ari: We’re almost home.

Call #2

I really didn’t register anything after that because it devolved into silliness.

Eventually, I came to a stop sign and looked behind my right shoulder at Isabelle. She looked at me as if to say, is he for real?! Meanwhile, I was stifling a giggle.

“Remember,” I told her. “He’s five.”

She gave me an exasperated look, but said nothing.

But then…

Ari: Siri, call Fluffy at home.

CALL #3 (aka: Here we go again.)
Ari and Fluffy reunited once we got home.
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