siblings · slice of life

Waiting for the Bus

Once teeth are brushed, the backpack is packed, and shoes are put on, we transition to Isabelle’s play room to wait for the bus. Some mornings it’s just Isabelle with one parent. Other mornings, Ari joins in the fun. (That is, he wakes up earlier than necessary!)

This morning, Ari woke up after Isabelle finished her breakfast. My husband left early for work, which meant I had to get him dressed and hustle downstairs so I could look out the window for the bus.

Some mornings, Isabelle is not thrilled to have Ari in her playroom since he likes to touch her stuff. This morning, Isabelle didn’t seem to mind him touching everything (INCLUDING an impressive structure she built with MagnaTiles) he could get his tiny, two-year-old hands on. Her patience translated to her craft table, which is usually a flash point. I was relieved she was being so patient since my caffeination level hadn’t reached it’s optimal level once the two of them were in her play room.

Isabelle set Ari up with a crayons and paper, but Ari had other ideas. He wanted colored pencils. She gave him — one at a time — a pencil to draw with. Do you think he drew on the paper she provided to him? Of course not, he drew on several pieces of paper. But Isabelle redirected him gently, encouraging him to draw on one piece of paper at a time.

Within ten minutes, the bus arrived and Isabelle was off to school. I forgot about her level of patience for Ari when our evening felt as though it was going off the rails. However, as I looked back on my camera roll at the end of the day, I found a sweet photo of them I snapped this morning and it brought a smile to my face.

siblings · slice of life

No “Good Night” for You

Several months ago my kids began an odd good-night ritual. They’d throw themselves into each other, hug tightly, and say “Goooooooood niiiiiiight!” This would happen repeatedly until Marc or I said enough. Otherwise, the elongated good night would go on for five minutes.

Isabelle met Ari in the hallway this evening to offer him a “good night” since the kids were going to bed simultaneously (which rarely happens). She said, “Goooooooood niiiiiiight!” but Ari pushed her away.

“No good night, Isabelle!” Ari yelled.

I coaxed her to try again, but the same thing happened.

Then it happened again.

Finally, Isabelle offered me a good night hug and kiss (since I was putting Ari to bed). I happily accepted.

I’m not sure why Ari didn’t want hugs from his sister tonight, but I’m pretty sure it had something to do with the fact they met in the hallway for their nighttime ritual, rather than having it in her room.

Here’s the little stinker of a brother running away from his sister’s embrace.

siblings · slice of life

To the Sun and Back

I stood at the kitchen island, pouring my morning coffee when Isabelle said, “Mommy, look at us.”

Isabelle, Ari, and a Hershey Bar

I looked up and discovered Isabelle and Ari hugging on his overstuffed chair.

“Awww! You two are so sweet. How much do you love your brother?” I asked Isabelle.

She ignored my question and went back to hugging Ari. So, I went back to pouring my coffee.

A minute or so later, Isabelle asked me, “How far away is the sun?”

“Millions of miles away,” I replied.

“How far is it from the sun back to here?” She asked.

“It’s millions of miles back to Earth,” I replied. (Who does she think I am? NASA? A Google Search Engine?)

She looked at me with the sincerest expression and said, “Well, that’s how much I love Ari. I love him to the sun and back.”

{Heart melting.}

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siblings · slice of life

Requited Love

Isabelle attempted to wish Ari a good night from the hallway. He pushed her away and said, “No, Isabelle!”

“Would you like Isabelle to tuck you in?” I asked him.

“Yes. She tuck me in,” he replied.

The kids scurried onto the glider in Ari’s room. Isabelle kissed Ari atop the head and said, “Good night, Ari. I love you.”

To which Ari replied, “I love you too.”

I stared at them. “Has he ever told you that he loves you before?”

“No,” Isabelle replied.

“That was the first time, wasn’t it?” I said.

Isabelle nodded.

“Awwwwwww!” I swooned.

Isabelle told Ari “I love you” two more times. To which he replied, “I love you too,” twice more.

siblings · slice of life · technology

Don’t take your brother out of the crib… unless there’s a fire.

We purchased a drop-gate crib when I was pregnant with Isabelle so I wouldn’t have to bend down as far to pick her up out of the crib. Ari has been using the same crib since we brought him home from the hospital.

Once Ari was old enough to stand, we told Isabelle she wasn’t to lift Ari out of the crib unless there was a house fire. Do you think she listened to us?

Well, mostly she did, but one day — a few months ago — Isabelle lifted Ari out of the side of the crib. Why did she do that? “Because my arms weren’t long enough to open the drop gate,” she told me.

“But you were told not to take him out unless there was a fire,” I stated.

“But I wanted to play with him,” she replied.

Marc and I gave Isabelle a stern warning and it had not happened again… until this morning.

Look! She’s even letting him hold Teddy!

Both kids woke up before we did. By the time Marc entered Ari’s room, he found Ari out of the crib with the drop gate down. Apparently, Isabelle’s wingspan is long enough to open the drop gate now. (Gotta love an almost six-year age difference!) He returned to our bedroom to relay the news.

I prepared a stern speech as I rolled out of bed. But I softened when I walked into Ari’s room. The two of them were sitting together on his glider with an iPad. It was locked, but Isabelle was commanding Siri to place a FaceTime call to my mother-in-law. However, she said, “FaceTime Linda Shubitz” (Shubitz is not my mother-in-law’s last name.), which led to Siri denying her the connection. Therefore, I gently reminded Isabelle for her safety and for Ari’s safety that she shouldn’t take Ari out of the crib. Then, I reminded her Grandma’s last name was Schaefer, not Shubitz. Then I left the room so they could make their FaceTime call without me hovering over them.

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board books · reading · reading conveys love · siblings · slice of life

Turning a Corner

On Friday, Ari grabbed a board book, handed it to Isabelle, and said, “Read this book.”

“No,” she replied.

“What do you mean ‘no’?” I asked from the kitchen where I was preparing a side dish for dinner. “If your brother asks you to read him a book that you can read, then you read it to him.”

Maybe that shouldn’t have been my response, but it was. I understand reading is hard for Isabelle, but she has made enormous progress this year thanks to her classroom teacher pulling her a few extra times a week, the in-school reading specialist, and an after school reading tutor twice a week. So, honestly, I think my response was measured considering the anger I felt bubbling up inside of me when she told Ari “no.”

“Fine, I’ll read it to him,” she replied.

She read to him begrudgingly. Yes, she read the words, but there was no warmth. I said nothing. After all, she was reading to him.

Like many classroom teachers, I often told my fourth and fifth graders who struggled with reading to read aloud to their younger siblings. Little kids don’t judge. They don’t point out mispronounced words or when you miss a word entirely. Many times, I found that the kids who actually did read aloud to their little brothers and sisters improved at a faster rate than kids who weren’t reading aloud to anyone.

There have been several occasions when Isabelle has read aloud to Ari in the past couple of years, but she hesitates. I think she genuinely worries that he’ll say something if she doesn’t get the words right.

On Sunday morning, Ari asked Isabelle to read to him again. This time, she said “yes.” She read book after book to him on the couch. I shot some videos clandestinely. I asked her if I could share them (I was thinking with her grandparents.) since she read beautifully. She said “no.” This time, I didn’t fight back.

This morning, Isabelle doesn’t have school. I asked her to get dressed. She said, “I want to go and see what Ari is doing.” I didn’t argue with her since, after all, it’s a national holiday. AND, I knew Ari was reading board books on his bedroom floor.

A few minutes later, I overheard Isabelle’s voice reading books aloud to Ari. I tiptoed into the bedroom and took a video. Then, I took a photo (since I haven’t been restricted from sharing those) of Isabelle and Ari reading a book together. My heart was bursting when I noticed them surrounded with a pile of books.

siblings · slice of life · technology

Naughty Moments


This morning, I asked Isabelle to watch Ari while I went upstairs to brush my teeth. Whenever I’ve asked this of her in the past she has played with him. Today she had another idea.

On my way back downstairs I heard voices, but they weren’t my children’s voices. She turned on the TV! I was infuriated since I don’t allow TV before school. I thought about tiptoeing downstairs and catching her in the act, but I worried she would’ve heard my footsteps and turned it off before I walked into the room. So I called to her from the staircase, “I hear the TV and want to see what you’re watching.”

Isabelle looked so guilty when I entered our great room. Thankfully, she was only watching “The Cat in the Hat” with Ari who was standing right up against the TV screen, which is NOT a good thing if you’re in charge of your baby brother. (Reasons I don’t like her to watch TV when Ari is around.)

I punished her in a way that benefitted me. No KidzBop in the car this morning! (BTW: I listened to the Beatles Channel, which was delightful.)


Ari started climbing onto the couch a few days ago. Thing is, Ari doesn’t just sit on the couch like a normal kid. He walks back and forth on the sectional. Also, he likes to stand in place and wave the quilt, which hangs on the wall, in a way that makes me cringe every time.

Perhaps the funniest part of Ari standing up on the couch (to touch the quilt) is that he knows he shouldn’t be doing it. He smiles as he touches it, makes eye contact with me, and then says “no-no” as he grabs the material and gives it a shake.

siblings · slice of life

Sunday Breakfast

Soon after Marc learned about my father’s tradition of taking me out to breakfast on Sunday mornings when I was a kid, he adopted a similar tradition with Isabelle. Every Sunday morning, when Marc isn’t on-call at the hospital, he takes Isabelle out for breakfast. Sometimes they take Ari, but most of the time it’s just the two of them.

In the past few months, Isabelle has gotten frustrated about missing “Sunday Breakfasts with Daddy” when he’s on-call. Therefore, I usually take her and Ari out for breakfast at Starbucks on one of the weekend days when Marc is working to make up for missing the special breakfast with Daddy.

This morning, I offered to take Isabelle to breakfast, but not to Starbucks. I wanted to change it up. (I always want to change it up, but she always wants to go to the same Starbucks so she can order a blueberry muffin and chocolate milk.) I looked Isabelle square in the eye and said, “I will take you and your brother out, but it has to be some place other than Starbucks.” She agreed so I checked a couple of menus and found a place that suited us (i.e., gluten-free options, pancakes, high chair, diaper changing table, reasonable prices). So I packed the kids up in the car — once Ari woke up — and drove to Tomato Pie Cafe.

When we arrived, we had to wait a few minutes for a table to open. Therefore, I set down the diaper bag, Isabelle’s art bag, and the coats on a chair. I stood in line while Isabelle said, “C’mon Ari, let’s walk!”

“Stay where I can see you,” I said while pointing to an area with couches.

Isabelle led Ari over to an area with a raised platform. Without my prompting or asking, she helped him up and down onto the platformed area — multiple times (Because nothing is more fun than doing something a gazillion times when you’re 18-months old!). When Ari looked like he wanted to sit on a couch, Isabelle gave him a boost. Every time he attempted to bolt away from her, she caught him and said, “Stay with me, Ari.”

I smiled from my perch at the hostess stand. There was no bitterness towards having to chase after her brother. No frustration that she was out with me and Ari — instead of Daddy — on a Sunday morning. She was content to help him, as many times as he needed, to stay safe. Good gosh, I thought, I am so lucky to have kids who adore each other (at least for now).


Once we were seated, my phone vibrated in my pocket. It was Marc. He finished rounding earlier than expected so he could meet up with us! While he got there after we ordered, he managed to join us, which was an unexpected treat!

siblings · slice of life

Two Here. Two There.

Isabelle has known — for at least three months — I was going to drive to my parents’ house with Ari today. (One of my dearest friends from college is in North America, from Israel, this week so I’m traveling to NYC to see her.) Isabelle has known we’d be back on Tuesday afternoon. Despite this knowledge, she had a tough time separating from Ari this morning.

About 20 minutes before I departed, the good-byes began. Isabelle smothered Ari with kisses on his cheeks and enveloped him in more hugs than I could count. It seemed a little over the top, so Marc loaded Ari into his car seat. Isabelle followed “to keep him company” while I finished loading the car.

A few minutes later, I opened the back door and noticed Isabelle perched in the space between their car seats. She was facing backwards — just like her under-two-year-old brother — reading to him. That’s right. SHE WAS READING BOARD BOOKS TO HIM. (For anyone who doesn’t know, Isabelle loves being read to, but struggles with independent reading due to ocular motor dysfunction.)

“Can you give us some privacy?” she asked as I appeared at the door.

“In a second. I have to put some things back here.” I replied.

She continued reading Hair by Leslie Patricelli to Ari — a book we’d practiced several months ago — quite fluently. I stopped what I was doing and retrieved my iPhone from my back pocket. I pulled it out to take a video, but Isabelle glared at me. Therefore, I snapped a candid photo and gave her the privacy she requested.

* * * * *

Ari fell asleep for an hour once we were 15 minutes into our road trip. All I could think, as I glanced in the backseat, was how it didn’t seem right to have two of us on our way out of town with two family members at home. This isn’t how it ever works. Sometimes I travel for work. Sometimes Marc travels for work. Sometimes Marc and I go out of town together. However, there’s always a set of grandparents at home with the kids. This time, we were split in half and it felt — for lack of a better word — weird.

* * * * *

When Ari awoke from his nap, he babbled in the backseat for a few minutes. However, he suddenly cried “Idd-ee” (That’s how he says “Izzy,” which is what he calls Isabelle.) over and over again. He must’ve noticed he was alone in the backseat so he let his displeasure be known. Therefore, the final 43 miles of our trip were spent with him in tears crying out “Idd-ee” and “lun-shhh” over and over again. Once we got to my parents’ house, my dad had lunch waiting for Ari. Afterwards, Ari found some framed photographs of Isabelle and all was right with his world again.

siblings · slice of life

Hugs, Kisses, and Tickles Good-Bye

I drop Isabelle off at school at least once a week. Sometimes, if I’m lucky, she’ll remember to give me a kiss good-bye. I usually have to say, “let me give you a kiss” once she unbuckles are seatbelt.

There’s someone else in the car who never has to ask for a kiss good-bye.


Ari gets smothered with hugs, kisses, and tickles before she grabs her bag and steps out of the minivan. If he’s sleepy, then she gives him a quick kiss before leaving. But today, Ari was wide-awake. The good-byes took much longer than usual. (THINK: Two minutes until I finally said, “You have to go to school!”)

In the midst of the sibling love fest, I turned around to snap a picture. All I could think was they are 17 months into their relationship and she adores him as much as the day he was born. How lucky am I?

Caught in the middle of a game of peek-a-boo.