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!

animals · CONVERSATIONS · slice of life


Every night, my husband or I place Ari’s all but one of his stuffed animals in the four corners of his crib. [Muttsy (aka: Upstairs Puppy)] has been tucked under his arm for months now!] For the past week, Ari has been rearranging his animals as soon as I lay him down in his crib. It starts out like a roll call:

“Puppy? Baby? London?”

Then it evolves into Ari scurrying to the four corners of his crib to gather all of the animals. Initially, he tried to place them all under his arms. After a night or two of being unsuccessful at that, Ari placed the crib crew in a heap and collapsed on top of them like a concert-goer jumping into a mosh pit.

Look how much extra space is in that crib! (BTW: Poor Muttsy is shoved over all the way to the left in this photo!)

Tonight, after Ari took the initial roll call, he started saying, “Everybody! Everybody! Come here!”

I laughed. “May I turn on the light and take a picture of you with your animals?”

“Every-BODY!” he corrected.

“May I take a picture of you and everybody?” I replied.

He grinned a goofy-baby grin at me which implied his consent. I turned on the light and snapped a few pics.

“Light off!” he commanded.

I walked across the room, shut off the light switch, walked over to the crib, closed the gate, and said, “good night.”

“G’night, g’night, g’night!” he replied. “I luh-ooo.”

“I love you too,” I said.

slice of life_individual
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animals · slice of life

Big Teddy Sends His Love

Isabelle adores stuffed animals. She tucks a shabby-tan bear nearly everywhere she goes.  Each morning, when my husband leaves for work, she sends him on his way with a stuffed animal and pretend food for the two of them to share while he’s at work. She wants a stuffed animal to accompany him to work to assist to “help kids feel better.”  (Truth be told he keeps the stuffed animal in the back seat of the car, but she thinks they go inside with him.) This little tradition began in early July and has shown no signs of stopping.

I haven’t been away from Isabelle for more than a few hours since late June when I attended the TCRWP Summer Writing Institute. When she heard I was going to the Highlights Foundation to work on my writing for a few days she insisted that I take a stuffed animal with me.  I tried to decline her lovely offer (What if someone saw me bring a teddy bear? Would they think I was sleeping with it!??!), but she was persistent.

“Who do you want me to take?” I asked.

Big Teddy at Highlights
Big Teddy at Highlights

Her eyes scanned the room and settled on one bear in particular. “Take Big Teddy.”

“You know, Big Teddy used to be my teddy bear*. What’s Big Teddy going to do?”

“Help you write,” she said slowly.

“Oh, okay. I’m sure I could use some help with writing since I’m revising a story called ‘Missing Teddy.'”

“Share pens with Big Teddy,” Isabelle said.

“I should share pens with him?” I asked.

Isabelle nodded.  I like that she thinks writers use pens!

“Okay, I’ll share pens with him.”

Before I left (which was carried out of two long hours of Isabelle sobbing on-and-off), she kissed both of us good-bye several times.

On Sunday night, since I knew she was still missing us, I wrote her a letter and sent her some pictures of Big Teddy working here at Highlights.  I hope she enjoyed the note and the photos since I felt kinda silly taking all of those photos. (Initially I planned on keeping Big Teddy in the car, but couldn’t resist the chance to take some writing pics of him.)  Oh, the things we do for our children, right?



So, that was last night. This afternoon I called my in-laws, who are watching Isabelle while I’m away. I asked my mother-in-law what Isabelle thought of the photos and the message.  I figured she’d be excited.  BUT… my mother-in-law was straight with me, which I appreciated.  Isabelle was not impressed. (I could imagine her making McKayla Maroney’s signature facial expression from the 2012 Olympics.) Oh well! At least I tried!

*= Back in the day, Big Teddy was named Koach, which means strength in Hebrew. That was too hard for Isabelle to say so she nicknamed him Big Teddy.


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Head over to on Tuesday for more slices of life.

animals · Silent Sunday

Silent Sunday #3


animals · book stack · picture books

Our Hurricane Sandy Book Stack

This meme was started by Sheila at Book Journey and the kids’ version has been adapted by Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts.

I am hoping, as most East Coasters are, that the power will not go out.  The winds are gusting outside of my house.  The trees in our backyard are swaying back and forth.  I cannot decide what is scarier: looking at those trees or watching The Weather Channel.  Therefore, I decided to gather up a sleuth of new picture books to share with Isabelle if and when the lights go out.  (Let’s be honest, I will share them with her if the power stays on too!  That would certainly make for a better picture-viewing experience, wouldn’t it?)

It is possible (though unlikely based on current weather predictions) that we will get some snow.  Therefore, Cold Snap written by Eileen Spinelli and illustrated by Marjorie Priceman (Random House, 2012), will be added to our Hurricane Sandy book stack.  While this book is about snow and we’re currently experiencing high winds and rain, the cold snap in the book takes place over an elongated period of time (kind of like this Frankenstorm).  While Hurricane Sandy is the October Surprise for the Presidential Election, the book refers to a winter surprise.  While these parallels are too sophisticated for my toddler to understand, I figured I’d mention them.  Also, there’s an adorable recipe for Miss Dove’s Sugar-on-Snow Candy at the back of the book.  While I doubt we’ll be able to make it this week, Isabelle and I can certainly revisit this book and the recipe once a true cold snap hits here in the months to come.

Max and Ruby’s Treasure Hunt (Penguin, 2012) by Rosemary Wells has lift-the-flap clues that I know Isabelle will enjoy! I haven’t read it yet, so we’ll experience it together for the first time.

Benji Davies, who is the creator of the Bizzy Bear books Isabelle likes so much, is the illustrator of Railroad Hank (Random House, 2012), which was written by Lisa Moser.  Isabelle is very into vehicles right now.  She likes to look at them on the road, in the air, or on the tracks.  Therefore, I know she’ll get a kick out of this book, which has great onomatopoeia, which will make it even more fun to read aloud to her!

The Tooth Mouse (KidsCan Press, 2012) is a sweet picture book written by Susan Hood and illustrated by Janice Nadeau.  It is a fable about the French version of the Tooth Fairy.  While Isabelle is in the process of getting her two year-old molars, rather than loosing teeth, I think she’ll love this adorable story, which has delightful illustrations of mice.  Plus, there are lots of French words and expressions throughout the text, so it gives me a wonderful opportunity to expose her to some the foreign language I studied for years.

Of course, we’ll read lots of favorite board books and picture books too!  But these are three new ones which I’m almost positive will delight my little one’s eyes (even if they’re by the light of a battery-operated lantern).