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.

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.”

family · growing up · slice of life

Welcome Home

Isabelle has never been a run-to-the-door-to-greet kind of girl. It used to bother me, but I’ve come to understand she isn’t into big hellos and good-byes.

This afternoon, I heard the pitter-patter of footsteps as my keys jingled in the doorknob.

“Daddy! Daddy’s home!” Ari cried out with delight.

“Not Daddy. It’s Mommy!” I said.

Ari rose up and down on his toes several times. (He can’t jump yet.) “Hi Mommy!” He threw himself towards my legs.

“Hi, little guy,” I replied kneeling beside him. “Can I have a hug or a kiss?”

I got both.

I walked in the house and looked around. Isabelle was there. She didn’t stop what she was doing to say hello and I know her well enough not to interrupt. I chatted with Ari as I put down my things. Then I asked him for another hug and he obliged.

Kids are different. Ari gives me grand greetings, while Isabelle gives me casual ones. I’d be lying if I said her aloofness didn’t sting, but not everyone responds the way you want them to in life.

I love these delicious hugs.

family · slice of life

Pull the Tag

My husband clips his hospital ID tag to his dress shirt every day before he leaves for work. He works in pediatrics so he keeps his ID tag on a retractable clip so his patients can pull on it if they’re feeling fidgety during an appointment.

Isabelle has loved to pull Marc’s ID tag ever since she was little. There’s something about pulling it all of the way out and letting it snap back that has always given her the giggles.

A few months ago, Ari started pulling Marc’s ID tag in the mornings before he left for work. Just like his big sister, Ari loves yanking it out as far as he can before letting it go. (Apparently, my husband has grown numb to these snap-back attacks.)

This morning, my husband said good-bye to the kids as we were waiting near the front door for Isabelle’s bus to arrive. Guess what they both wanted to do (at two and eight years old) before he departed? PULL THE TAG!

Marc gave each kid two turns pulling his tag and letting go before he headed off to work. Giggles ensued. I snapped a few photos since this is the kind of thing I’ll likely forget when they’re teenagers. It’s a silly morning ritual, but there’s something that is playful and endearing about it.


Partially Unplugged

Me, Ari, Marc, Isabelle, and Hallie in the Hub

We drove to Happy Valley to spend the weekend with our cousin, Hallie, who is a senior at Penn State. (Notice how I said “our cousin.” That’s a fib. She’s my husband’s second cousin. However, I’ve adored her since I met her when she waaaaay back in 2005 when she was Isabelle’s age. Therefore, I consider her my cousin too!) We’ve been visiting Hallie a couple of times each school year ever since she started at Penn State. This past weekend was filled with many of the same things we’ve done during our other visits to Penn State.

    We tried new restaurants.
    We visited the Creamery.
    We stayed at a The Nittany Lion Inn (and ate too many apples from the basket in the lobby).
    We walked around campus.
    We got too little sleep (Thanks, dear children!), but left with our hearts full after spending time with Hallie.
  • My only complaint about the weekend — if you don’t count the lack of sleep — was that I didn’t get the chance to attend a sporting event since I stayed back at the Inn while Ari napped.
  • But do you know what truly made it a fabulous weekend?

    1) Marc and I left our laptops at home.

    2) I put a vacation message on both of my email accounts, which meant I didn’t have to respond to anyone’s email until today!

    I know a weekend away from email probably doesn’t sound like luxurious, but for me it was! I rarely stay away from email unless it’s a major Jewish holiday. In fact, I often check my email while my kids are sleeping on vacations.

    Do you know what I did when Ari was napping this past weekend? I read a book (The Alice Network… in case you’re wondering.) and snoozed a bit myself. It. Was. Wonderful. It was the respite I needed from all of the work I’ve been doing the past few months.

    The unplugging made me realize I should get away from email more often. It won’t be an every weekend thing. (After all, I work on most Sundays while my husband does things with our kids.) But, honestly, I don’t think it should take a Jewish holiday or an out-of-town trip for me to take a respite from email.

    family · slice of life

    Exploding Oatmeal

    My parents are among the best ones out there. They have been known to drive 2.5 hours to my house to help me out when I’m in a pinch. Case in point: When I asked them to stay a little longer this week (once I was done with my consulting job) so I could have some support with the kids during the first two days of the SOLSC, they were willing to stay.

    Before my father (aka: Zayde) retired, my mom (aka: Bubbe) often took the train or drove the Bubbe Mobile (aka: her hybrid car) out to Pennsylvania to help me out when Isabelle was sick, I was under the weather, or swamped with work. Now that they’re both retired, they come together.

    My mom was my first teacher in so many ways, but she never taught me how to cook. My dad & the Food Network are to thank for that. The story below — which I’ve written as if I’m talking to my kids — will illustrate why. Let’s just say she’s not from the cooks!


    Remember the story about my Grandma and the flaming dishtowel? Well, I have a story about your Bubbe and the exploding oatmeal.

    One morning, your Zayde and I were sitting at the kitchen table eating breakfast. Bubbe came downstairs — with her own oats — and removed a cereal bowl from the cabinet.

    “You know we have oats here,” I reminded her.

    “I didn’t know what kind of oats you had — or if you had them — so I brought my own,” she replied.

    “She’s a good houseguest,” my dad replied. “She brings her own food.”

    “She doesn’t need to bring her own food,” I reminded. But I didn’t go further than that. After all, what would a visit from Bubbe be without her bringing a gallon of skim milk and half her produce drawer from New Jersey?!!?

    But I digress… In true Bubbe fashion, she prepared her oatmeal, popped it in the microwave (Notthe stovetop… Yuck!), and left the room. Why watch what you’re making when you can get something else done in another room?

    30 – 60 seconds later, I noticed a substance rise from the cereal bowl while I sat at the kitchen table.

    “Look at that!” I said to Zayde, pointing at the microwave. “Mom’s oatmeal is about to explode!”

    He muttered something like ‘of course she’s not here to witness it’ as the oatmeal grew larger… and larger! The brown oatmeal rose above the bowl. First an inch, then two inches. Zayde and I sat there laughing despite the fact it looked like oatmeal was about to explode all over the microwave.

    He must’ve had enough because he pushed back from the table as the oatmeal began to crest over the side of the cereal bowl. He opened the door to the microwave seconds before an explosion would’ve happened. The oatmeal deflated immediately though parts of it ran over the lip of the bowl.

    We laughed uproariously as my mom returned to the kitchen.

    “You’re oatmeal almost exploded!”

    “Holy cr*p!” she said rushing towards the microwave. “I should’ve put it in a big bowl. That’s why it looks like that.”

    “Yeah, and you should’ve stayed here to watch what you were cooking. Yet again, you walked away and this is what happened.” I said in an irritated voice.

    Your Bubbe could say nothing to defend herself. Instead, she cleaned up the mess and transferred what was left of the oatmeal into a soup bowl. (Why a soup bowl? I do not know.)

    Some banter ensued about how she got my Grandma’s (her mother’s) cooking skills. I don’t think she liked that much and she said as much. Finally, I said, “you better watch out or I’ll make you my slice of life story today.” Afterall, this was sure to be one of those family tales that would be repeated again and again.

    At first I got a don’t-you-dare kind of look. But then she said she’d be okay with it as long as I promised to tell my children about all of her good qualities in years to come. I promised Bubbe I would.

    So, my children, it is my hope that you grow up to take after me and Zayde in the kitchen, not your Bubbe. Because taking after Bubbe when it comes to food preparation isn’t what I want for you in this life.


    Here’s what the end product looked like. I call this photo exploded oatmeal with raspberries. (Gross.)

    I don’t think that’s Instagram-worthy, do you?

    family · siblings · slice of life

    Someone wants his mama…

    We are not a co-sleeping family. Despite the “back to sleep campaign,” it never occurred to me to have my kids sleep with me since I always slept in my own bed as a kid unless I was sick or there was a terrible thunderstorm.

    I hesitated about bringing Ari into our bed when he was up screaming in the wee hours of Monday morning. However, I was tired and wanted to go back to bed (and Ari wanted no part of my husband rocking him back to sleep).

    The same thing happened last night around 1:00 a.m. Ari settled down when I was the one rocking him or sitting close by. When Marc tried to take over Ari screamed. Flattered as I am that my son wants me, I’d rather not be this wanted. I value my sleep!

    After an hour up with Ari, Marc took over for me so I could go back to sleep. However, I couldn’t take the baby screaming from down the hall so I texted Marc.

    Five minutes after Marc thought Ari would lay down, the two of them appeared in our bedroom.

    “This is how bad habits start,” I muttered to him. “But I don’t care. We have to get back to sleep.”

    And sleep we did.

    In fact, I slept until a little before 7 when Marc had to leave for work. But that’s when I encountered a new problem: a big sister who wanted to play with her baby brother. Isabelle tried to stay quiet by laying near him, but eventually the giggles started… and she woke him.

    And so another day begins. Thankfully, coffee exists.

    family · slice of life

    On dying… and death.

    I’ve known, since April, that death would be knocking on our family’s door sometime soon. You see, in April, we learned my uncle’s cancer was worse than we thought it was when he was initially diagnosed. We held out hope that he’d be strong enough to undergo more treatments or even surgery.  But things spiraled out of control in early August, which signaled that he wasn’t going to see his 75th birthday next year.

    My uncle was admitted to hospice last Wednesday evening. From my experience, I know that a trip to Hospice is usually a one-way ticket, so-to-speak. I knew, once my uncle entered hospice, that the end was near.

    On Friday, Isabelle asked me, “What are we doing next weekend?” While I had planned for us to go to the pool and to go apple picking with some kids from her school, I knew we’d be busy with family things. So, instead of lying and saying, “I don’t know,” I sat her beside me and explained that Uncle Leonard was really sick and he was dying. I told her we’d probably be at Bubbe and Zayde’s for part of next weekend since we’d be mourning the loss of her great-uncle.

    Have you ever explained death to a young child? If you haven’t, then consider yourself lucky. The death conversation is the one talk I’ve dreaded. (That’s right. I feel much more confident with the impending “birds & bees talk” than I felt with talking to my child about what happens when someone dies.) And for good reason. Despite my simple explanation, Isabelle had tons of questions. She wanted to know:

    • What happens to your body when you die?
    • Where is Uncle Leonard right now?
    • Where would Uncle Leonard ‘sleep’ after his heart stopped beating?
    • How would Uncle Leonard get from Florida to New York?
    • What happens at a funeral?
    • Why do adults cry at a funeral?
    • How does Uncle Leonard get up to heaven? (I explained, which led to the follow-up question of “How does the Kaddish prayer help the soul go higher and higher?”)
    • How does the body get under the grass?
    • And more and more and more.

    Eventually, I cried in front of Isabelle. The questions were too much for me to bear with a stiff upper lip. (Of course, that led to “Why are you crying if he isn’t dead yet?” And that led to me imploring her to say passed away instead of saying dead.) I’m trying to deal with my own grief of having my uncle pass away since I believe he should’ve had many more years of life. I’m trying to support my dad and cousins. And while I’m doing all of this, I’m attempting to manage the everyday things I need to do as a mom of two, a wife, and in my own personal and work life.  It’s a lot.

    The questions have continued since my uncle passed away on Saturday morning. And I’m sure they’ll continue all week as we get ready for the funeral (which she will not attend) and the shiva period. While it’ll be nice to have the family gathered together for a few days, the circumstances are not ideal.

    This is how I want to remember my Uncle Leonard… smiling with a camera around his neck taking pictures of the family.

    Click here if you’d like to read my uncle’s obituary.

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    family · friends · slice of life

    Blessing Bracelets

    Last month, I celebrated a milestone birthday. One of the loveliest gifts I received were blessing bracelets from Lynne. Inside of the jewelry box, there was a tag that said:

    This is a Blessing Bravelet. Whenever you wear it acknowledge one blessing in your life for each pearl on the bracelet. Each time you are drawn to the bracelet, silently find four people or things you can be grateful for.

    Be grateful for: Your children, a flower, your dog, a perfect cup of coffee, a roof over your head – just find something. The more you wear the bravelet and the more blessings you find, the more you will be blessed.

    In one year, if followed, you will be aware of a profound change in your life.

    My birthday went off without a hitch. I’ve embraced this new decade of my life with open arms.

    IMG_2436However, there have been some stressors that have popped up recently that are making these blessing bracelets more important than ever. (I don’t like to be vague when I write, but I’m choosing not to write about what’s been happening in detail out of respect to those close to me whose challenges are weighing on me — heavily.) I donned both bracelets this morning and touched each pearl, counting my blessings aloud.

    1. Isabelle
    2. Ari
    3. Marc
    4. My mom
    5. My dad
    6. Driving a car that works.
    7. Residing in a safe and comfortable home.
    8. My long-time friend, Alexa, who is giving me incredible guidance right now.

    It’s important to count your blessings even when you’re feeling overwhelmed. As a result, I will be wearing these bracelets a lot as I navigate the next month of my life. Thank you, Lynne, for this incredible gift. These items are so much more than pieces of jewelry!


    Parental Visit

    I was awakened at 2:00 a.m. by Ari’s cries. My husband rocked him back to sleep. At 5:00 a.m., I heard Ari crying again. I trudged down the hall, scooped him up, and rocked him back to sleep. But he woke up as soon as I put him back in his crib so I l fed him. By the time I was finished, it was time for Isabelle to get up for school.

    Needless to say, I was exhausted as a result of going to bed late and then being woken up twice last night. Luckily, my parents were in town this week. This afforded me with the chance to snooze until it was time to do Isabelle’s hair for school. And then I did something heavenly… thanks to my parents being here: I went back to sleep. 
    I got out of bed again at 10:25 a.m.! I can’t remember the last time I saw that time on my night table’s clock! I worked for almost three hours and then left the house for an appointment. While I was out, my parents cared for Ari and Isabelle (once she returned home from school). I returned home to find two kids doing their thing under the watchful eye of my parents. Despite my fatigue, I remembered that I am lucky.

    But now, they’re heading home. Unlike many of our neighbors and friends, we don’t have family nearby. I can’t call up my parents on a random afternoon and say, “Can you come over to help me?” Nope. We slog it out on our own (most of the time).

    One day, I hope to live closer to my parents. For now, I’m thankful when they come to visit. At least tomorrow is a Saturday so my husband is around!