day trip · slice of life

Have car. Will drive (for homemade ice cream).

I was spoiled, when it came to eating ice cream, since I grew up eating Thomas Sweet‘s ice cream. If you’ve never eaten at Thomas Sweet, then you’re missing out on the best homemade ice cream out there. (Imagine having the ability to blend-in cookies, candy, and fruit to homemade ice cream create the perfect flavor. That’s what Thomas Sweet is about!)
There is nothing like Thomas Sweet here in Central Pennsylvania. There are a handful of ice cream places, but they all sell commercially-made ice cream. (The only good “homemade” ice cream I’ve found is at the Berkey Creamery, which is 90 minutes away in State College.) That’s fine if you didn’t grow up on Thomas Sweet, but honestly, mass-produced ice cream isn’t worth the extra calories to me. 

A few months ago I decided to search for better ice cream so I pinned an article about “Eastern Pennsylvania’s Ice Cream Trail.” When we had nothing to do this afternoon (since it was too cold to go swimming, which is what we thought we’d be doing today), I suggested we take a drive for ice cream. Marc and Isabelle were game. (Ari didn’t express an opinion.) 

Before we left our home, I called nearly all of the places listed in the article. Nearly all of them served commercially-made ice cream. But finally, at the bottom of my list, I came across Leo’s Homemade Ice Cream, an ice cream parlor 30 minutes south of our home in Carlisle, PA. A quick phone call revealed they made their own ice cream! I was giddy with excitement so I picked up the pace and got the kids ready to go. 

Leo’s ice cream was the real deal! Isabelle ordered Chocolate Marshmellow, Marc got Peanut Butter Cup, and I ate Snickers ice cream. All three flavors were delicious! Definitely worth the calories and the long drive! 

Next time I get the hankering for ice cream, I will hope in the car and drive to Carlisle! (Seriously.)

celebrations · slice of life

Let’s be honest about Mother’s Day…

We didn’t make it to Hershey Gardens this year since the line to enter was too long. Instead, we walked around the grounds at The Hotel Hershey.

I didn’t have a picture-perfect Mother’s Day. Instead, my day included a pounding headache, tears in my closet when nothing I wanted to wear would fit (Still working on losing all of the baby weight!), and too much picky eating and whining from my daughter. And, every time I heard whining, all I could think about was how many portfolios I need to grade for my graduate students in the next few days.

Even though I didn’t get the photos I wanted to get with my family on my first Mother’s Day as a mama of two, there is something that will be etched in my memory forever. Today I ate brunch with my parents, husband, children, and in-laws. As someone who lost one of her grandmothers as a baby, I do not take this for granted. My children are fortunate to be growing up with all four of their grandparents.

Ari may not be smiling or looking at the camera for most of the pictures that were snapped today. However, there are some photos my Dad and Marc captured of me with my mom, Isabelle, and Ari that make me smile.

When I look back on this day years from now, I probably won’t remember the headache, the clothes that didn’t fit, or the whining. Instead, I will remember my kids were surrounded by love. And I will also remember this was the first year my lap was full. And that is enough for me.


music · slice of life

Maccabeats Concert

We had a great view from the second row!

Anyone who has read this blog in the past few years may remember Isabelle is a HUGE Maccabeats fan. We own every album they’ve cut and have watched their videos together on YouTube (giving them what probably amounts to over 1,000 hits from our home alone). A few months ago, I heard they were coming to Harrisburg so I picked up the phone and immediately bought tickets.


IMG_9019Isabelle must have been excited about the concert since she came home from school on Friday telling me she and her friend Eli discussed it at school. She wanted to sit next to Eli so she recorded a video for his mom asking for permission to sit next to him. His mom texted a video of Eli back a few hours later saying he wanted to sit next to Isabelle too. (How adorable is that?) Luckily, the kids are in Kindergarten so they didn’t even ask to sit away from us (i.e., their parents).

We arrived at the theater about 30 minutes before the show started. Isabelle saw other kids from her class, but remained committed to sitting beside Eli, which I thought was lovely. Thankfully, Eli’s family arrived ahead of us and saved seats for us in the second row.

Selfie during “Ha Yom” when most people were using their phones as makeshift lighters.

Although Eli and some of her classmates left their seats and danced during the show, Isabelle sat beside me with her gaze transfixed on the Maccabeats. She sang several of the songs softly, clapped her hands to other songs, and applauded at the end of each one.


As we walked out of the theater, I held her hand and asked, “Did you like it?”

“Yes!” she replied.

On the drive home, Isabelle mentioned, “Ari doesn’t know what we heard at the concert since he stayed home with a babysitter.”

“You’re right,” I said. “Was it okay that Daddy and I did something with just you?”

“Yes,” she replied somewhat sadly.

“It’s okay for us to do special things with just you, without Ari, sometimes right?”

“Yes, it is,” Isabelle replied.

“You can still tell Ari about the concert if you’d like when you get home,” I offered.

She smiled, “Okay, I will.”

slice of life

A Better Morning

Like many parents, we struggle to get Isabelle out of bed in the morning. After all, no one really wants to get out of bed the moment an alarm clock goes off! Once we get her out of bed in the mornings (This job usually falls to my husband since I stay up late to give Ari his last bottle.), we need to support her through her morning routine or else we find her daydreaming. Hence, mornings have been filled with hurry-ups and more reminders than my husband and I can stand.

Madly searching for solutions, I touched-base with the bus driver the other day. I was pretty sure the pickup time was 7:15 a.m. To my surprise, I found out he changed the schedule so now Isabelle would be his second-to-last pickup instead of his second pickup. This would mean she’d be picked up at our front door at 7:50 a.m.! (I typically left the house with her at 7:35 a.m. to get her to school by 7:45 a.m. every morning.) If she were to take the bus to school, then she’d have 15 extra minutes in the morning, which could — dare I say it — make our mornings less rushed.

So we tried it today. Do you know what happened by the time she finished brushing her teeth and donning her shoes? We had time to play together! (Thankfully, Ari was still asleep, which is good since he had woken up at 5:25 a.m. for a too-early feeding this morning.)

Isabelle decided to do a page in her Puzzle Buzz book with me this morning. It was one she needed grown-up support to complete. Bonus: Now she knows how to do hidden codes on her own!

We finished the hidden code page two minutes before the bus pulled up to the house. I asked her, “Was this a better way to spend our time in the morning?” She nodded. I agree.

Isabelle has Recycling Club before school on Wednesday mornings so she has to get to school at 7:30 a.m. However, if the other four mornings can be a little more tranquil with her having an extra 15 minutes, then I’m all for it. (Plus, I don’t have to wake Ari up if she’s taking the school bus!) I have a feeling she’s going to be riding the school bus for the remainder of the school year.

music · slice of life

Music on the Radio

It all started innocently enough. Isabelle made a request:

Sure, I thought, as I grabbed my iPhone.

“How do you the ‘HandClap’ song?” I asked.

“Ryan sings it at school,” Isabelle replied.

Within minutes I found and downloaded Fitz & the Tantrum’s “HandClap.” But then the requests kept coming — in the form of one or two perfectly-sung lyrics at a time.

Before I knew it, I downloaded songs like “Play That Song” by Train and “Ride” by Twenty-One Pilots to my phone. 

I was bewildered that Isabelle knew any of the songs. You see, whenever Isabelle is in my car she always requests to listen to Jewish music like the Maccabeats, Debbie Friedman, or liturgical/holiday music. And while I have a great appreciation for Jewish wedding music, I keep telling my husband I might impale myself if I have to keep listening to the same Jewish wedding CDs over and over again. 
“How do you know all of these songs?” I asked Isabelle.

“I hear them in Daddy’s car. We listen to the radio together!”

This is because Marc is wiser than I am. He doesn’t turn on any Jewish music (even though he has all of the Maccabeats albums on iTunes).

“That’s it!” I told Isabelle. “As of tomorrow we are listening to the radio!”

“But I like listening to Jewish music in your car,” she said.

“Do you know what I listen to when you’re not in my car?” I asked her. She had no response so I continued. “The radio. Or the Beatles. But mostly the radio.”

I recalled having this conversation last summer when she came home from camp singing “Cake by the Ocean.” I tried playing the radio in the car back then, but she whined incessantly until I turned it off.

I decided to try again today. I switched on the radio for our drive to her Aerials arts class. And do you know what happened? Isabelle sang along. She didn’t ask for me to turn on the Jewish music even once.

Listen, I’m happy to play Jewish music for her. It is important for her to be familiar with it. However, it is also important for her to be exposed to all kinds of music — from both of her parents. So, for now, I’ll alternate between the radio, my iTunes playlist, and the Jewish music. At least that’s my intention.

slice of life

CAGA: Walking Along the River

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I needed to get my daily workout in this morning since Ari had a well-baby checkup (and immunizations!) this afternoon. I figured I’d walk around my neighborhood, as I usually do, when I want to take a walk. However, we have family in town this week so I suggested the four of us go for a walk along the Susquehanna River in Harrisburg. It’s been years since I’ve walked along the River. (Like y-e-a-r-s. I think the last time I walked along the River was when Isabelle was Ari’s age!)

Ari and I broke away from the fam soon after we started walking since I was walking to burn a lot of calories (and therefore had a faster pace). With him asleep in his stroller, I was left to walk with my own thoughts. I could’ve listened to music on my iPhone, but I wanted to be aware of my surroundings. Therefore, I pushed the stroller and took in the scenery.

I drive down Front Street in Harrisburg regularly. However, I rarely slow down enough to notice the historic homes, much less the fact there are poignant quotations on plaques affixed to rocks all along the River’s toe path. But today was different. Today I walked — albeit at a quick place — and took in the sculptures and memorials that dot the walking path along the River. I even found a sunken garden!

Once I walked for a half-hour, I turned back and retraced my steps. At this point, one of my family members and I found each other on the path and walked back to our cars together. Both of us marveled that this part of the Capital Area Greenbelt is a treasure! As we walked, I made a silent promise to myself not to allow another six years to go by before walking along the River again.

I’ve always seen this sculpture from the road, but I’ve never seen this sculpture from the perspective.

Sleeping Baby & Sculpture

I’ve always heard about the Holocaust Memorial in Harrisburg, but hadn’t seen it up close until today.

We made it to the M. Harvey Taylor Memorial Bridge!

I discovered a sunken garden.

I noticed gargoyles atop this building as I was walking. Gargoyles!

Look how much I walked before noon!

slice of life

Just a few more minutes…

Something in my gut told me Isabelle was not ready to go to school (even though she already picked out her Toy Day toy and had her shoes on). I looked at the time on my phone. 7:30 a.m. We had a few minutes to spare.

“Do you want to hold Ari for a few minutes?” I asked.

“Yeah!” she said.

She folded her legs like a pretzel, stuck her arms out at ninety-degree angles, and declared, “I’m ready for him.”

I passed Ari to Isabelle, cautioning her to “hold his head.”

“It’s so heavy!” she moaned.

“I know!” I said. “But you still have to support it. Strong arms.” I reminded.

“I can’t hold his head! It’s too heavy,” she whined

“What if I let him sit with you in a different way?”

“Puh-lease!” Isabelle said.

I removed Ari from her lap. Isabelle let out a sigh of relief. “Sit back with your legs out,” I said.

Isabelle complied. Then, I set Ari on her lap so she could wrap her arms around him like a teddy bear.

Ari fell into Isabelle’s body, which forced her to lean against his car seat that was on the floor behind her.

“I love you, Ari,” she declared. “But you’re getting really heavy.”

“He’s a growing boy!” I said.

“You’re a heavy, growing boy, Ari. But I still love you.” She planted a kiss on his head.

“Want me to take your picture?” I asked Isabelle.

“Sure,” she said. And then, in a high-pitched voice, we both said, “Smile, Ari!” at the same time.


Isabelle snuggled her baby brother for a few minutes. After they got their morning snuggles in, I determined it was time for us to hit the road. This time, she seemed ready.

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slice of life

My face is my child’s favorite toy. 

With a nod to Wordless Wednesday, this is my slice of life story (in ten photos).
slice of life

Toy Day

We leave for Isabelle’s school later than I’d like nearly every Tuesday and Thursday morning. Why? Because Tuesdays and Thursdays are toy day in Kindergarten! However, Isabelle typically remembers this fact once her shoes and coat are on and we’re almost out the door. So then I have to wait (Sometimes I manage to do it patiently.) while Isabelle finds the perfect toy to bring to school.

This morning, I was determined to leave on-time. Therefore, I encouraged Isabelle to put on her socks and sneakers ten minutes earlier than usual. Then I reminded her to pick her toy in advance of donning her coat.

Can you guess what happened?

Fortunately, Isabelle did what was asked. As I came downstairs, I heard Isabelle searching for a toy from her play room. She selected a doll my in-laws bought her a few years ago.

“I’m bringing Little Isabelle to school,” she declared.

Penelope, I thought. That doll’s name used to be Penelope. Instead, I said, “I’m glad you made a choice quickly this morning.”

Since we had time to spare, Isabelle sat down in front of Ari and attempted to play with him. (She’s desperate to play with him. However, his way of playing is putting everything into his mouth, which Isabelle doesn’t always appreciate!) He smiled when she showed him her Little Isabelle doll. I glanced at my watch. We are ready early! Therefore, I let them “play” together for a couple of minutes.

Finally, it was time to go. We rolled away from the house at 7:38 a.m., which amazed me. After all, today is Toy Day, which means we never early. But today, we did.

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food · slice of life

At Least Someone Appreciates My Food!

This is the third day in a row I’m writing about food. (Click here or here for my previous food-related posts.) I’m promising myself it will be my last food-related slice for awhile. However, I felt compelled to share something that happened today when I invited a friend and her daughter over for lunch.

As a full-time mom, part-time literacy consultant, part-time writer, and adjunct professor, I usually eat lunch at home by myself. (Often, I wolf it down while Ari plays.) I do this so as to maximize the time I have to get my work done since Ari will often fall asleep on car rides, which means he won’t nap for long stretches once we’re at home. (Nap Time = Work Time!) Every now and then I’ll meet a friend out for lunch or will get together for lunch. Today was one of those days. I hosted my friend Lara and her almost-four-year-old daughter for lunch. (Our older kids are in the same Kindergarten class.)

A day or two before we made plans, I encountered a Spiralized Sweet Potato Breafkast Tostada recipe that sounded scrumptious. Once she accepted my lunch invitation, I asked her if she’d be up for trying it and if her daughter would eat it. The answer was yes (to both)!  Isabelle would never eat this, I thought. But good for her kid if she will! I decided to make breakfast for lunch on the day they’d be over.

This afternoon, I prepared the recipe as Lara and I chatted in the kitchen. With each layer I added to the plate — sweet potato tostada, fried egg, baby spinach, refried beans, avocado, salsa, and cotija cheese — I thought there’s no way her three-year-old will eat this!

“I’m going to take a picture of this,” I told Lara as I finished plating our food. “If G. eats this, then I’m going to tell Isabelle about it when she gets home from school.”

And do you know what happened? Her daughter ate what I made. In fact, she said it was good!

At least there’s one child out there who appreciates my cooking.

(Click here for the Spiralized Sweet Potato Tostada recipe.)

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