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.

Ari: RING! RING! RING!

“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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animals · poetry · slice of life

We Took Three Goats for a Walk!

I took a goat for a walk two mornings ago,

A Nigerian Dwarf by the name Bebito,

Though he wanted to munch on the greenery he saw,

When I took a goat for a walk.

I wrapped his leash around my wrist

And kept him from weeds he couldn’t resist.

But he pulled me off the path several times that day,

When I took a goat for a walk.

I watched the goats chew all they desired,

Their four-chambered stomachs filled with the greenery they required,

The cracked branches of the arboretum yielded to the pressure of their hooves,

When I took a goat for a walk.

We ambled down pathways where people wander,

Up woodchip mountains to look over yonder,

And the goats stopped to chew on everything green that they saw,

When I took a goat for a walk.

As we turned back, the three of us paused for a photo,

But Bebito, Violet, and Ivy felt obligated to mow,

They dined on flowers and grass in the meadow,

When I took a goat for a walk.

When we returned, I stood amazed,

These magical creatures left my allergies unfazed,

I pet Bebito several more times before I had departed,

When I took a goat for a walk.

This is the first poem I’ve written in over a year. I’ve never been strong with rhyme and this poem is no exception to that. However, I kept thinking of I Took the Moon for a Walk by Carolyn Curtis and Allison Jay every time I thought back to our weekend saunter with the goats from the Philly Goat Project. Therefore, instead of writing prose about the goat walk Isabelle, Ari, and I took with the goats, I decided to create a poem slice mentored after I Took the Moon for a Walk. (I did my best.)

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animals · outdoors · slice of life

Not-So-Lucky Ducks #SOL21

Ari and I brought two bags of bread to the park: week-old wheat bread and week-old, gluten-free, four-seed bread. (That’s a lot of hyphens, isn’t it!?!?)

Since it was chilly out, we were the only people feeding the ducks so one would think they’d be desperate for food. (You’d think that if you didn’t read “Discerning Ducks,” my post from last year and the same park.) However, we started tossing the gluten-free bread into the water and — after a nibble and a look — the ducks let the gluten-free bread float by. A few of them (who I jokingly claim have Celiac disease) took some nibbles, but even the nibblers refused full slices of gluten-free bread when I tossed it towards them.

“Can I toss the wheat bread now?” Ari asked.

“Sure, buddy,” I replied, handing him a slice.

Wouldn’t you know it, the ducks began flocking to the space where Ari tossed the wheat bread. One duck dove over another one, flapping its wings wildly, when the wheat bread hit the water.

“They like the wheat bread!” Ari declared.

Just then, a woman walked by with a scruffly dog who began sniffing us in search of our bread. She pulled him back. I told the woman what was happening with the discerning ducks.

“I can’t believe they won’t eat your bread!” she said.

“I know! And it’s good bread from the local gluten-free bakery!” I replied.

“That’s unbelievable!” she said, truly shocked.

It is shocking that on a 29-degree day, that felt like it was in the teens, hungry ducks would be that finicky.

animals · pretend play · slice of life

An Ice-Cream-Pastry Truck #SOL21

Patchy (who is Ari’s beloved stuffed dog) started driving a Tonka dump truck around the house a few months ago. Patchy kept crashing the truck into walls. Patchy received multiple warnings. Eventually, Patchy’s truck was impounded — multiple times — in our basement. Eventually, Patchy learned how to operate his dump truck responsibly. In an effort to slow himself down, Ari helped Patchy, hook-in a digger, and the dump truck magically became an ice cream truck.

This morning, I found Patchy riding on top of the dump truck with the digger attached. I noticed an assortment of play food atop the trucks.

“What else is Patchy selling today?” I asked Ari.

“He’s selling buttermilk cake, see?” Ari asked as he pointed at the toy cake balanced on top of the digger.

“Yes, I see the cake. Is it a pastry truck now?”

“It’s an ice-cream-pastry truck!” Ari declared as he helped Patchy make his way across the house.

“Of course! I should’ve known it was an ice-cream-pastry truck!”

Ari, Patchy, and Patchy’s Ice-Cream-Pastry Truck
animals · slice of life

Same Tag

Nearly two years ago, I wrote about the incredible stuffed animals Lynne Dorfman has bestowed upon my children. One of Ari’s beloved stuffed animals, Patchy, goes everywhere with him. You won’t be surprised to know that Patchy was a 3rd birthday gift from Lynne and Ralph (her husband).

Today, a just-because-we-love-you package arrived from Lynne and Ralph. I held the package until after dinnertime. Once the kids finished, I announced they had a package from Lynne and Ralph. They began jumping up and down with anticipation. Once I opened the box, I handed each child a gorgeous gift bag. Both kids were immediately smitten with their animals, but Ari’s response to his alligator (who he thought was a crocodile) was priceless. He declared:

“Look! My croc is is the same as Patchy!”

I was perplexed. Patchy — with his white fur and gray ears and eye patch — couldn’t look more different than the gator.

“They’re not the same,” I said.

“Yes, they’re brothers. They have the same tag!”

I looked at the fabric label on both animals backsides. Sure enough, both animals were made by the same stuffed animal maker!

Who knew Ari paid attention to logos?!!?

Isabelle and Ari helped Patchy and Alaska — the name Ari gave his newest pal — get (re)acquainted.
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animals · slice of life

A Debbie Kind of Morning

Lynne Dorfman spoils my kids. There, I said it.

Over the past few years that Lynne and I have been writing partners, she has graciously sent Isabelle and Ari presents for birthdays, holidays, and sometimes for no reason at all. She’s given them books, signs, and blankets. But some of the most beloved presents have been the stuffed animals.

Lynne buys the best stuffed animals. Seriously, I dare you to compete with her on this front!

This morning, I was packing Ari a snack. He insisted on having “one pretzel” while I prepared his snack. But that wasn’t all. “Debbie need a pretzel too!”

Do you know who Debbie is? She’s a stuffed ostrich! Lynne gave the ostrich to Isabelle, but Ari adored it so Isabelle bequeathed the ostrich to Ari.


And now, Debbie eats pretzels. (Well, she pretends to eat pretzels. Ari made munching sounds for Debbie and then popped the pretzel in his mouth.)

I needed to take Ari upstairs to brush his teeth before leaving the house. Ari had other plans. He decided to sit with Debbie.

“Do you want me to take your picture with Debbie before we brush teeth?” I asked keeping an eye on the time.

Of course, Ari had another idea. Instead of taking a photo with Debbie, Ari insisted on gathering some of his favorite stuffed animals (All purchased by Lynne, of course!) for a group photo.

Clockwise from bottom left: Debby, Quincy, Ari, Bunny, and Puppy. (The last two need better names!)

Once the photo shoot was over, Ari agreed to brush his teeth. I’ll give you one guess who came along…

Debbie and Ari climb the stairs.
animals · pretend play · slice of life

Feeding the Puppy

We will never have a dog in this house. Quite frankly, I’d love to have a Golden Retriever. However, with asthma and allergies (Yes, I know there are shots available for people with pet allergies. Yes, I endured them for nearly five years — in addition to shots for pollen, trees, etc. No, the shots didn’t work… not even a little bit.), a dog will never be in my future. Not even a “hypo-allergenic” one. I’m convinced hypo-allergenic dogs only work if you’re mildly allergic. I am not mildly allergic.

Puppy gets the royal feeding treatment from Ari.

Muttsy (aka: Puppy) is the closest our home will ever come to having a Golden Retriever in it. (There are actually two Muttsy dogs living in our house, but that’s a story for another time.) Ari adores both of his puppy dogs. Initially one was known as “Upstairs Puppy” and the other as “Downstairs Puppy.” However, he now sleeps with both dogs every night, carries them downstairs in the morning, brings them back upstairs for naptime, and so on.

I came home around 5:15 p.m. I walked into the kitchen and was greeted by Ari and one of the puppies. He declared, “I wanna feed Puppy!”

“What’s he going to eat?” I asked, playing along.

“Ummm… peanut butter!” Ari declared.

“Oh, I like peanut butter,” I replied.

“Me too,” Ari giggled. “I put Puppy in high chair.”

Ari carried his puppy to his booster seat, clipped him in, and declared, “He needs a bib!”

I looked around the kitchen and found a bib. “Here you go,” I told his stuffie as I placed a bib around its neck.

“He needs a tray!” Ari said.

I walked over to the drying rack, grabbed the tray, and clicked it into place on the booster seat. Then I asked Ari, “Does he need a spoon?”

Ari’s eyes widened. “Yessss!”

I grabbed him a baby spoon. Then I brought over Ari’s water bottle. “Does he need water too?” I asked.

“Yessss!” Ari replied.

Ari began feeding and hydrating Puppy. Puppy even got kisses from Ari between his peanut-buttery spoonfuls. Lucky Puppy!