meditation · rituals · slice of life

Nighttime Meditation

Every night,

After a shower has been taken,

Teeth have been brushed,

A bladder has been emptied,

Stories have been read,

Lights have been turned off,

White noise has been turned on, and

Prayers have been said,

It’s time for a nightly meditation.

Every night,

After a meditation has been selected,

Ari lays on his back,

With Fluffy by his side.

Every night,

After Ari settles his head on his pillow,

He lays Fluffy on his back,

Paws up,

Snout facing the ceiling,

So that Fluffy — too —

Can meditate with us

Before we say

“Good night.”

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rituals · slice of life

Does he think my skin is naturally soft?!?!

I was rocking Ari in his glider this evening. I planted a kiss on his forehead.

“Do you have cream?” he asked.

“Yes, I have face cream on my face,” I replied.

“I don’t like it,” he said.

“Since when do you dislike face cream?” I asked.

He didn’t respond. He knows nothing about cream other than the fact that he walked into my bathroom this evening when I was putting cream on my face. He asked me what it was and I told him. I thought nothing of it at the time, but apparently, he didn’t like what he saw or didn’t like the way it felt when I kissed his skin.

I kissed Ari’s cheek. That’s when he dropped a bomb on me.

Face Cream, Kisses, and Laughter

“Don’t kiss me with your cream.”

“Are you serious?” I asked.

“Yes,” Ari replied. “Don’t kiss me.”

I tried to explain why I put cream on my face. I told him that in the future, he’d probably use cream on his face. I went so far as to tell him he’d probably marry someone who’d use face cream some day.

None of that mattered.

“Don’t kiss me!” he told me again. He didn’t say it meanly, but he said it forcefully.

I turned it into a joke. I changed my voice into a baby voice and said, “Don’t kiss me. I don’t like your cream.” Ari giggled. That’s when I knew it was safe to kiss him without making him mad. When I did, he laughed uproariously while trying to keep a straight face every time he said, “Don’t kiss me.”

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.

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rituals · routines · slice of life

There is such a thing as too many stuffed animals!

Cozy? I wouldn't be.
Cozy? I wouldn’t be.

“Only three stuffed animals may sleep in bed with you.”

That’s what I told Isabelle when she got a big girl bed.  And for a good two or three weeks, that rule was followed.  But slowly, slowly, very slowly, more stuffies found their way to her bed for nap time and bed time.  At first it was four.  Then the number crept up to five.  By the time she insisted on bringing six furry creatures to bed, I threw up my hands and remembered the to pick my battles.

But now, NOW, things are getting out of hand.  Now Isabelle lines up her animals just-so every night.  Each of them has a spot on the bed.  Most of the time she lays them face-down since she sleeps on her tummy.  But tonight, she flipped them on to their backs as she methodically laid them across her bed.

“Where are you going to sleep?” I inquired.

She pointed to a spot on the far edge of the bed next to the guard rail.  “Right here,” she replied.

“That’s not enough space for you.”

She gave me a look.  A look that said, yes-it-is, I-know-better, and C’mon-Mom all rolled into one.

I sighed.  At least the other half of the stuffed animals were sitting in a heap on her glider tonight.

After a few careful maneuvers, Isabelle wriggled herself in-between Corduroy and Nugget, while tucking Lynnie bear under her arm.  None of the animals were crushed or laid-upon.  I don’t know how she would want to lay like that, but in order to avoid a toddler tantrum, I buttoned my lip, covered her with a blanket, and kissed her good-night.

A half hour has passed since I tucked her in.  I just checked her on the monitor.  Guess what?  She’s not sleeping yet.  Perhaps there is such a thing as too many stuffed animals!

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Jewish · OBSERVATIONS · rituals · speech

A Day of Rest

“I’m making pah-tee for Daddy!”

Last night, before sunset, Isabelle was planning a “party” in her kitchen for her a daddy. She gathered pretend cookies, a kiddie teapot, and other assorted goodies in a basket.  She carried them to the great room, deposited them on the floor, and hustled back to her play kitchen.

Back and forth she went, from the kitchen to the great room and back to the kitchen again.  But it was time for Shabbat.

“Isabelle, you may continue your party after we do our Shabbat prayers,” I said.

“NO!” she shouted in my general direction.

“Isabelle, we need you to come here before Shabbat starts,” my husband said.

“NO!” she howled.

A few minutes passed.

“You may bring your chair over to light candles,” I said.

“NO! I’m making pah-tee for Daddy!” she exclaimed seeming exasperated with us.

Marc and I looked at each other.  We were feeling a little exasperated with her.  This was not exactly the shalom bayit I dream of when I think of how Friday nights usually go.  Usually she’s excited to drink the grape juice and eat challah.  Usually she’s excited to help set up for Shabbat.  Usually she brings a chair over to the kitchen island, where we say the blessings over the candles, her, the fruit of the vine, and the challah.  But not last night.  Nope.  Last night she just wanted to play.

“If you don’t come over, then you’re not going to eat challah,” my husband stated.

I was less than thrilled that he was dangling that in front of her, but what choice did we seem to have.

“Yes call-ah!” she retorted.

“Then come over here,” he said.

“No. I make pah-tee for YOU!”

“Then no challah,” he said.

Not even the threat of not eating challah, which she loves to devour, was motivating her.

THINK Stacey, think!

I walked over to Isabelle’s Daddy party she was setting up.

“No mommy! Dis for Daddy!”

I ignored the slight, knelt down beside her and said, “I want to talk to you about something, Isabelle.”

She stared at me through her big blueberry eyes with her bottom lip stuck out a bit.

“Yes call-ah!” she shouted.

I took her toddler-sized hands in mine and held them gently.  It was time to take a different approach.

“You know how you work hard all week with Miss Marie and Miss Kelly on your talking?”

She nodded.

“They’re helping you learn how to get your words out, right?”

She nodded again.

“Well, you work hard all week long.  And it’s very hard work to get your words out… I know that.  You go to see Miss Marie and Kelly and then you practice at home with mommy.  And you also go to Miss Mandy and Miss Jena and Joanna and that’s hard work too.  You work so hard, all week long.” I paused to let that sink in.  “Well, Shabbat is a time where we leave the work we did all week behind and we stop.  We don’t work on Shabbat.  We rest.  Don’t you want to take some time to rest from all of the hard work you did this week?”


“I thought you would.  So, put your party aside.  You can have the party later.  Come and celebrate all of the hard work you did with me and Daddy.”

I wrapped my arms around her and squeezed.  “I love you very much.  Will you come and join us for Shabbat so we can take a break from all of that hard work you did this week?”

“Okay,” she said.

“Do you need help pulling over your chair or can you do it yourself.”

“I need help,” she replied.

And just like that she came over.  I pulled over her chair and we kindled the Shabbos lights.

And just like that I vowed not to do picture cards or speech work with her on Shabbat because everyone deserves a day of rest when they work for six days straight.


bedtime stories · rituals · slice of life

Bedtime Stories

Isabelle examined the front cover of a picture book before we snuggled together under a blanket.

Gusty Nighttime Wind

Warm Family Blanket

Snuggling for Bedtime Stories

Hurry! Hurry! gets read aloud by me, then her, then me.

Mama’s Day with Little Gray peacefully closed out our nighttime ritual.

Gusty Nighttime Wind

Warm Family Blanket

Snuggling Family of Three

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Jewish · OBSERVATIONS · reading the world · rituals · slice of life

It’s all because of the raisin challah.

Every Friday afternoon, I smuggle a freshly baked challah into my house after I pick it up from a local woman who bakes challot fresh on Friday mornings.  . I hide it in my coat and put it on the counter when Isabelle isn’t watching. If she sees it, she will want to eat it.  And we have to wait ’til sundown to bless the candles, her, the fruit of the vine, and lastly the challah.

This past Friday we were driving back to Pennsylvania from Washington, DC.  I called ahead to Marvelous Market and had them hold a raisin challah for me.  Isabelle was napping with my mom in the car when I went in to pick it up.  I placed it in the backseat, where it was out of her line of vision, so she wouldn’t see it even if she woke up on the drive home.

But once we got home, I wasn’t thinking about my usual Friday afternoon smuggling-in ritual. Instead, I was thinking about unloading the car and getting ready for dinner quickly. Therefore, Isabelle saw the braided contraband in my hand as I put it on the kitchen island. She cried. I comforted her. She calmed down, but began crying again. Maybe she’s hungry, I thought, as I placed her in her booster seat for an unprecedented before-dinner snack. She didn’t want to eat. In fact, the crying got louder and louder.

“What’s she crying about?” my mom asked me.  After all, she had just gotten changed and had been offered a snack. What else is there when you’re two!??!

“I don’t know!”

“Maybe she wants to play,” my mom said.

I took her out of the booster and let her play. However, a few minutes later she was crying again.  I lifted her back into the booster and offered another snack. The crying continued.

My husband came home from work and barely got a greeting from Isabelle.  Seeing as he hadn’t seen her for over 36 hours since we were in DC, I knew something was up. As he took off his coat it dawned on me.  The challah!

“Isabelle, do you want to do Shabbat?” (I hate saying “do Shabbat,” but that seems to be the lingo that’s been used when it comes to talking about the Friday night blessings we do at home before dinnertime.”)

“(Ye)sss!”she said.  The crying immediately ceased.

“Oh my G-d!” I exclaimed.  “You saw the challah when you came in and you must’ve wanted to do Shabbat this whole time!  Do you want to help me get ready for Shabbat?”

“(Ye)sss!” she repeated with a smile.

“Well, let’s go!” I reached out my hand to her as soon as I unbuckled her from her booster seat.  “Let’s get ready for Shabbat!  Help me get the prayer book,” I said as I led her into the great room.  I grabbed it from the shelf and said, “Would you liked to carry it?”

She reached out her hands and said “(Ye)sss!”  Said prayer book was a bit heavy, which meant she dropped it. “That’s okay. But when you drop a prayerbook you have to kiss it like this,” I said kissing the spine. “You do.”

She planted a kiss on the prayer book as delicately as I did. I removed the dust jacket — she doesn’t like them — and handed it back to her.  “Put it on the island,” I said as she walked into the kitchen holding on to it tightly. She stood on her tippy toes and tried to reach, but couldn’t, so I assisted.

Next we retrieved the candles and Kiddush cup from their places.  I found my husband’s kipah and had her hand it to him.

Everyone kept moving.  My husband cleaned out the remaining wax from the candlesticks, my mom located the matches, I filled the Kiddush cup.  Isabelle watched as we swarmed around the kitchen getting everything ready quickly to keep her happy.

And she was, until I started singing “Shalom Aleichem,” which was a new tradition my husband and I agreed to start right after she turned two.  By the fourth verse the crying ceased. While she didn’t cover her eyes to bless the candles, she watched their flames dance. I could tell she was relieved Shabbat, which has become a ritual she holds dear, had arrived. Once she saw the challah in the clear bag, she knew it was time since she usually never sees it (since it hides under a challah cover until we’re ready to bless it). Therefore, crying was the only was she was able to use to tell us that she was ready for Shabbat.

This week, life is back to normal. We’re here in Pennsylvania for the next several Shabbats. Therefore, I will once again smuggle the challah into the house this Friday afternoon.