slice of life

We have no bananas today!

This photo was taken a week after the banana incident. Please note: The kids’ basket was well-stocked in advance of our arrival.

The Giant near our former house in Harrisburg was always stocked with free fruit in a basket for kids to take when they shopped alongside their parents. As a result, Ari got used to grabbing a banana from the basket every time we went to Giant.

Nowadays, the Giant near our New house doesn’t keep the free fruit basket stocked. A couple of weeks ago, Ari wound his little “Customer in Training” cart into the produce section and was dismayed to discover there weren’t any bananas in the basket. (There weren’t any mandarin oranges in there either, but that’s another story.)

I looked at regular banana display and noticed all of the bananas were green. I pointed this out to Ari. “Maybe they don’t have any yellow bananas, which is why the kids’ basket is empty.”

Ari is really good at being three so he didn’t care about my rationale. All Ari knew is that he was being mightily wronged by being denied access to a banana at the supermarket. In a flash, he turned his customer-in-training cart around and declared, “I’m going to customer service!” (He may have witnessed me make a couple of trips to a customer service desk in the past few years, which is how he knows of its existence.)

I hobbled behind Ari with my cane as he chugged like a train to the front of the store. There was no stopping him. He was a boy on a mission.

Ari arrived at customer service before my body could, but my ears could hear him say, “Excuse me! Excuse me! Excuse me! There are no bananas in the basket!”

Oh. My. G-d. He didn’t just do that. I mean, at least Ari used his good manners and said excuse me, but he was so loud. Despite his declaration, no one at customer service paid any attention to him because the top of his head didn’t clear the counter. (When I told my husband this story he compared Ari to Little Elliot — from Little Elliott, Big City by Mike Curato — not being noticed in the bakery.)

“Buddy, you need to say ‘excuse me’ and then wait for someone to give you their attention. And be a bit more patient, please.”

“Excuse me!” He said in a booming-toddler voice. “I want a banana!”

He got the person’s attention at customer service who looked a little shocked to see a tiny customer barking at her.

“Let’s try with better manners. Now that you have her attention, tell her what the problem is,” I said.

Ari began telling her, with lots of hand animations, how there were no bananas in the kids’ basket and all of the bananas in the store were green. I understood what he said, but he was talking so fast I don’t think she caught any of it. Therefore, I stepped in.

“Hi there,” I said, smiling and waving. “What I think my son wants to say is do you know if there are any more bananas for kids? The basket of fruit is empty and all of the bananas on the display are green. Would you be able to help him?”

She said she’d try. She left the area behind the customer service desk and asked us to follow her to the produce department. As we followed behind her, I told Ari, “I can give you a yellow banana at home if they don’t have them here.”

Ari pretended not to hear me. He pushed his customer-in-training cart back to the produce section. Once there, the customer service representative declared, “There aren’t any bananas in the kids’ basket, so…” She walked over to the banana display, found three of the least-green bananas she could find, and placed them in the kids’ fruit basket. I thanked her and then looked down. Ari had his hand in the basket, turning the bananas over in search of the most-yellow of the least-green bananas.

“Are you sure you want to eat that one?” I asked. “It’s pretty green.”

Ari began to peel the banana, took a bite, and smiled. I guess the lack of ripeness didn’t matter to him since he got what he wanted.

*****

I didn’t write this story down when it happened. My mother begged me to record it after I recounted it to her. Therefore, this one is dedicated to you, Mom, for the encouragement to preserve a good laugh. What was the other story I was supposed to record?

food · read aloud · slice of life

A Marvelous Monday with My Little Man

Ari admires his good egg cupcake.

My One Little Word of 2020 is RESTORE. Now that my parents returned home — after living with us for the better part of three months while I got back on my feet after injuring my ankle — it has been time for me to start restoring different parts of my life. Last week, I resumed more parenting duties (e.g., chauffeuring, cooking meals) and working in my office instead of sitting in bed with my laptop. As a result, I was exhausted. Next week, I have my first
overnight work trip to work with second, third, and fourth grade teachers. So this week, I’m trying to take it easier.

It’s hard to take it easy when you spend your mornings running with a three-year-old boy. But this morning, I found the perfect activity to enjoy with Ari that allowed me to sit around a bit too. We went to story time at Lancaster Cupcake, which is a local bakery that selects a different read aloud each week and continues with book-inspired cupcake decorating.

I wasn’t sure how the morning would go, but it went really well! Ari listened to a staffer read The Good Egg by Jory John and Pete Oswald, decorated an egg cupcake, shared the cupcake with me (because I was wise-enough to ask for a gluten-free one!), decorating a coloring page, allowed me to read the book to him again, and played in the bakery’s play kitchen for nearly an hour. And what did I do while Ari was playing? I sat on a cozy chair and sipped a vanilla latte made with almond milk. Perfection.

Not every morning this week will be this tranquil and perfect. BUT, I can live on mornings like this one all week!

library · self-care · slice of life

Soapy Hands

Playing at the Library’s Train Table

Earlier today, I took Ari to the library. He said hello to Athena the turtle, played a couple of computer games, and then made a bee-line for the trains. After playing with the trains, we read a couple of train books. Before we left, I insisted on a bathroom trip. While Ari initially fought me (and insisted he needed play with the kitchen RIGHT THEN AND THERE), he eventually accepted that we were going to the bathroom.

I rolled Ari’s sleeves up so he could wash his hands by himself. After I realized he couldn’t get the soap out of the dispenser, I gave him two pumps of soap. Ari scrubbed his hands, rinsed them, and dried them with an excessive amount of paper towels.

We walked back to the chair where our coats were resting. “Time to put on your coat,” I said.

“NO!” He replied. “My hands are soapy.”

“You just washed your hands. How could they be soapy?”

“They. Are. Soapy.” He replied.

Oh-my-gosh, I thought. This is going to be a thing, isn’t it?

“If you rinsed your hands and dried them, then your hands can’t be soapy,” I said reaching for his jacket. As I went to help Ari’s arm into the hole, he moved away and insisted, “My hands are still soapy!”

I decided to prove him wrong. I took hold of his small hands and discovered… they were slick!

“You’re right. They are soapy! I’m not sure how they’re soapy since I watched you rinse your hands, but we can rinse them again.”

I didn’t bother to look at Ari’s face since I was confident it was a mix of smug satisfaction and triumph. Alas, we walked to the bathroom together where I proceeded to help him rinse his hands. Ari still took an excess of paper towels, but at least his hands were soap-free AND dry this time!

slice of life

Color Me Surprised

There are moments in life that take your breath away. If you’re like me, those moments usually involve something beautiful I observe in nature or poignant words I read. This morning, Isabelle took my breath away with something seemingly small she agreed to do for me.

The two of us are away for a couple of nights at a local hotel to celebrate her upcoming birthday. This trip is supposed to be all about her. So, I was hesitant to ask Isabelle if she’d be willing to go to the gym with me so I could do my PT regimen at the hotel. But I asked. And she said yes!

I set Isabelle up in the gym’s lobby, which is nearby to where I am exercising, so I can keep an eye on her. I gave her my iPad with YouTube Kids on guided access. And then I walked away. I did squats on a Bosu, lunges, balancing on one foot, and step-overs. Now I’m on the recumbent bike — typing this — with a few stretches left once I’m off. And Isabelle hasn’t whined about being here once, which is completely out of character for her! My foot, and my heart, are grateful that she understood the importance of Mommy doing her PT today.


Early wishes for a happy new year to all of the Slicers reading this post!

bedtime stories · slice of life

This is bedtime.

This guitar has four strings left and is massively out of tune.

I was minding my own business — sitting fully-clothed on a shower chair alternating my injured foot between buckets of hot and cold water — when I heard my husband tell Isabelle, “You need to pick out your pajamas now or your brother is going to be playing guitar in your bedroom.”

Before I could question the absurdity of that statement, Ari appeared in striped pajamas. He made his way into my bathroom with an upside-down guitar singing the new “Blues Clues” theme song.

Then he started singing “Oh, Chanukah!”

And then he left while carrying his guitar to the next destination carefully saying “I’m not going to hit into the walls with my guitar.”

I had to laugh. After what was a day filled with a meeting, appointments, and some not-so-good news, I needed the comic relief.

activities of daily living · reading · slice of life

Memory of the Morning

It’s late. Bedtime, in fact. My memories from the day have glommed together. But there was a conversation Isabelle and I had from early this morning I remember. I don’t recall the exact words we exchanged since so much has happened between then and now. But I remember the essence of it so the transcript doesn’t matter. But first, the backstory.

Isabelle moves like a turtle in the mornings. Once we settled into our new house, I began to incentivize her with something she wanted — daily iPad time — in an effort to get her moving. The deal: she could earn up to a half-hour of iPad time before school if she could get washed up, make her bed, get dressed, and put her PJs in the hamper in 25 minutes each morning. That incentive seemed to work… for about two weeks. Each time she missed the 25 minute threshold to be in my room with a hair bow before she went downstairs for breakfast, we’d make a plan to read together once she finished eating. This was NOT a punishment. Rather, it was something we’d do together since I was laid up in bed with nothing else happening.

About two weeks ago, I noticed Isabelle stopped getting into my room 25 minutes after her alarm went off. At first, I didn’t question it since I enjoyed reading with her after she finished her breakfast. But this morning, after waking up 45 minutes before her alarm went off, Isabelle still didn’t make it into my room dressed for the day on-time. That means she dilly-dallied for 70 minutes!

Without asking “what gives?” I asked her what gives this morning. (I suspected I knew, but couldn’t imagine that the kid who just six months ago declared she hated reading could actually be enjoying reading.) When she couldn’t explain why it took her over an hour to make it into my bedroom to get her hair done this morning, I threw out my best guess… fully expecting to be wrong. I asked her if she was intentionally getting into my bedroom late to have her hair done so she could read with me instead of earning iPad time before school.

Do you know what she said?

YES! She said yes. In fact, she admitted to purposely coming in late so we could read together. I kissed the top of her head and told her she could’ve just spoken up and told me she preferred to read with me rather than earn iPad time. I don’t remember what she said, but she looked sheepish.

Naturally, we read together this morning before she departed for school. I didn’t care that she picked two too-easy books (one Poppleton and one Henry & Mudge) to read alongside me. Rather, we snuggled in bed, as we have so many mornings for the past month, and enjoyed two stories. Unlike most mornings, she allowed me to put my arm around her. She leaned into my body, resting more on me than on the pillows.

For anyone who has followed Isabelle’s reading journey, you know this day has taken a lot of hard work and tears. While reading isn’t something Isabelle chooses to do independently, reading aloud to me is now a preferred activity. I never thought this day would come. But it has and I am grateful*.

Snuggled-up for our morning read.

*= I told my husband I will have to start waking up earlier once I get back on my feet again just so I can keep reading with Isabelle before school. Hopefully the thrill of reading alongside me in the mornings won’t wear off once I’m fully mobile again.

slice of life

The Cowlick

I have experience managing curly hair. Therefore, when the back of Ari’s hair started to curl into a mullet around the time of his first birthday, I was thrilled (About the curls, not the mullet.)! Around 14 months of age, I had Ari’s curls lopped off in favor of a little-boy cut. I’ve kept it short ever since because his hair got coarser on top, but never curled again.

This Waterlogue doesn’t do justice to how intense this morning’s cowlick was.

And perhaps that’s why I am at a loss with how to handle what’s happening with his hair now. Rather than a curly mullet, he has something unsavory happening with his hair. He has a cowlick.

This morning, Ari came into my room with an epic cowlick. It was sticking straight up into a point at the back of his head.

“Buddy, I need to put some product into your hair since it’s a little sticky-uppy.”

Do you think he complied by marching to the bathroom so I could shellac in onto his head? Of course not. HE IS THREE! He ran down the hall. Seeing as I’m walking with a cane, there was no way I was going to engage in a game of chase.

Eventually, Ari returned. I used two quarter-size portions of product to get his hair to stay flat. It worked, but I know that cowlick will return tomorrow despite my best efforts.

Any tips from boy moms would be appreciated since I have every intention of keeping Ari’s hair short.

slice of life

Hanging On By a Thread

Notice the space on the bottom row of teeth!

I do not like wiggly teeth. I get the willies anytime I see a tooth hanging on by a thread. Forget about snaggle teeth… that’s just too much for me to handle!

These are reasons it’s a good thing I taught fourth and fifth grade, not first or second. I don’t think I could handle a class full of loose teeth. Yes, fourth and fifth graders lose teeth, but loose teeth were no longer a novelty by the time students reached upper elementary school. I guess that’s because the excitement of the tiny plastic treasure boxes faded by then.

So, imagine the way I cringed when Isabelle came home from school with a tooth that was hanging on by a thread. The space below the baby tooth was bleeding (probably because she spent the day wiggling it incessantly). I about passed out when she showed me how it was hanging on.

Luckily, there was another adult in the house helping me out this afternoon. When the words, “I can pull it out for Isabelle,” passed her lips, my eyes widened.

“Are you sure?” I asked — horrified by the idea of ripping a tooth out of someone’s mouth.

Noticing her head shaking, I asked, “Have you done it before?”

“Yeah, many times,” she replied.

WHY WHY WHY was all I could think. But “yes please” was the response I uttered.

I hobbled around on my crutches looking for gauze and gloves. Once I located both in a first aid kit, I sent the two of them off to extricate the tooth.

Five minutes later, I was greeted by an eight-year-old girl sporting gauze in the space where her tooth had been.

“Is it out?” I asked.

“Yes,” Isabelle replied displaying the baggie for the Tooth Fairy.

Relief washed over me since I knew I wouldn’t have to look at a tooth hanging on by a thread anymore… or at least until the next one becomes loose!

Head over to http://twowritingteachers.org on Tuesdays for more slice of life stories.
reading · slice of life

Looking for Silver Linings

Unless I’m traveling for work, it’s my responsibility to get the kids ready in the mornings. Before we moved, I promised Isabelle I’d drive her to school in the mornings this year rather than having her take the bus. Because I’m the one driving, school mornings became hectic once the year began.

But everything changed when I broke my ankle six weeks ago. Now, mornings involve my husband bringing me breakfast in bed before he leaves for work and hobbling around on crutches in an effort to get myself ready for the day (whatever that means).

Reading Andy Shane and the Queen of Egypt together before school.

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve tried to incentivize Isabelle to getting ready quicker in the mornings so that her grandparents have an easier time getting out in the mornings. If Isabelle is in my room, ready to get her hair done by 7:10 a.m., then she has the chance to earn iPad time. If she makes it back to my room with breakfast eaten and her teeth brushed by 8:00 a.m., then she earns a half hour of iPad time. She has earned iPad time nearly every day since I started this incentive program. Typically, Isabelle divides her time between JI Studio, IXL Math, and Rivet.

This morning, Isabelle didn’t earn iPad time since she it took her awhile to get out of bed and eat breakfast. However, there was still time to read. I invited her to crawl into bed with me and bring an actual book, rather than read from the Rivet app. After her teeth were brushed, she brought Andy Shane and the Know-It-All into my room. We were short on time, but for 20 blissful minutes, I followed along as she read a couple of chapters aloud to me.

By 8:35 a.m., I knew we had to finish since I like to make sure she’s at school when the doors open. I turned to her and said, “Do you know what the only good part of this ankle injury is?”

“What?” she asked.

“I can’t rush around in the mornings since I’m on crutches. Your grandparents are the ones rushing around. And while I wish it were me who was doing everything, there is something nice about getting to spend quiet time with you in the mornings before you leave for school.”

Isabelle smiled. I could tell she wasn’t sure what to say so I continued.

“That’s called a silver lining. I wish I wasn’t hurt, but if I’m going to be, I’m thankful for the extra time to spend with just you before you leave for school every morning.” Then I wrapped my arms around her, planted a kiss on top of her curls, and said, “Have a great day at school. I love you.”

Isabelle squeezed back and replied, “I love you too.”

Head over to http://twowritingteachers.org on Tuesdays for more slice of life stories.
Hershey · slice of life

Gaining Perspective #sol19

We posed for a photo once the kids finished their jaunt through Treatville.

Five weeks ago I injured my ankle. As I lay on the floor — writhing in childbirth-like pain — I knew my life was about to become different. The x-rays at the ER told me what I already suspected. My ankle was broken. An MRI two-and-a-half weeks later gave a bleaker picture.

In the middle of it all, we moved from the townhouse we were renting to the house we were building. Despite wanting to unpack everything myself, I heeded several people’s advice to follow my doctor’s orders to stay off of my ankle. I sat and directed the movers. I sat and directed my husband. I sat and directed my parents and in-laws.

It’s been five long weeks of sitting. And there are more weeks of sitting to come.

If you know me personally, then you know I’ve been in the habit of working out six days a week for the past couple of years. That, too, came to a screeching halt. (Interesting fact: I was on my way upstairs to change into gym clothes when I remembered something I had to do downstairs. Then, BAM, I missed three steps!) I haven’t taken that too well.

Fall is my favorite season and I’ve missed the last five weeks of it. I have been pretty bitter about that fact, but then I realized there was one fall activity — Hersheypark in the Dark — I could still enjoy with my kids.

So, yesterday, I threw $38 at the problem, rented a scooter, and zipped around Hersheypark. I was thrilled to go on some low-key rides, eat greasy park food, and witness Isabelle and Ari zoom through Treatville. I didn’t complain once about how much pain I was in or how I knew my foot was swelling up from not having it elevated.  Nope. I smiled through the pain and soldiered on because being outside with Marc and the kids was much better than laying in bed watching everyone unpack boxes. (And believe me, there are still many boxes that need to be unpacked!)

Things are good when I am working, driving kids to and from activities/appointments, cooking, and doing laundry all while trying to squeeze-in a daily workout. I didn’t realize how fortunate I was until something as basic as my ability to walk independently disappeared. It’ll take awhile, but I will be able to walk again.

I’ll admit to being a begrudging Hersheypark season pass holder. I’ve always felt fortunate that we’re able to afford season passes. (One makes up the cost in as little as three visits per year!) I’ve been bemoaning our weekends there for at least a year by telling Marc, “Our kids need to realize there’s more to life than Hersheypark.” However, as I gunned my scooter up one of Hersheypark’s infamous hills, I decided that once I am able to conquer the hills on foot again, I will no longer complain about being there too often. Isabelle and Ari love it there. While the beach and New York City are my happy places, Hersheypark is theirs. Truth be told, I love witnessing them happy there.

Look for me next spring. I plan to be the grateful lady who is able to walk the park on foot with her family again.