dress-up · slice of life

Everyone’s a Comedian

“Mommy, look at me!”

I anticipated the ridiculous. The ridiculous delivered in the form of this:

“You have ten eyes,” I said.

I could sense Ari skip counting by twos.

After a few beats he declared, “I do have ten eyes!”

day trip · history · slice of life

Definitely Not a Marriott

Standing in front of a log hut at Muhlenberg’s Brigade.

This morning, the kids and I met Lynne and Ralph for brunch. (Yes, you can do brunch on a weekday!) Afterward, we drove to Valley Forge National Historical Park, where the Continental Army encamped from December 1777 to June 1778. After a stop at the Visitors Center, we walked Muhlenberg’s Brigade, the “site of the encampment of troops led by Brigadier General Peter Muhlenberg during the winter of 1777-78. Today the area consists of nine reconstructed log soldiers’ huts facing a gravel company street.”

We entered the first log hut, which Ari said: “wouldn’t be that warm in the winter.” It was filled with placards I read to the kids. In the next hut, we saw bunks that were “horrible beds,” according to Isabelle. A hut or two later, we discovered an officer’s hut, which the kids felt was nicer since it had mattresses, blankets, and a table. This allowed us to discuss the difference in accommodations between officers and soldiers.

The final hut we came upon had twelve wooden bunks. The kids couldn’t believe 12 soldiers (and possibly the soldiers’ families) would be cramped in that space. The kids were unimpressed with the soldiers’ accommodations at Valley Forge. That’s when I looked at them and asked, “What were you expecting, the Marriott Marquis?!” That garnered a chuckle from both of them.

Unfortunately, it began to rain, so we could not walk around Washington’s Headquarters. We plan to return in several weeks (since Valley Forge isn’t far from our house) to check it out. Visiting historical sites like this reminds us of what many people sacrificed to fight for our independence in the late 1700s.

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food · raising boys · slice of life

Mom’s Kitchen

BACKGROUND: Isabelle had a medical appointment this afternoon. Unfortunately, Ari had to come along since both kids had an early dismissal. Isabelle and Ari ate snacks on the drive to the appointment.


Ari was bored AND hungry by the time Isabelle’s appointment ended. “Let’s go out to eat!” he said. Ari long-pressed the home button on his iPad and said, “food near me,” to Siri.

Siri returned locations in Lancaster. The thing is, we were a half-hour west of our house. In his hangry state, Ari began yelling commands at Siri, such as “Find me restaurants near me,” “Snack bars by me,” and “Starbucks near me.” Nothing, nothing, and nothing.

“Why don’t we go out for dinner?” Isabelle asked.

“A, it’s a weeknight. B, we’re going to brunch with Lynne and Ralph tomorrow.”

“But we never go out to eat at night!” she complained.

“It’s. A. Weeknight.”

Isabelle must’ve understood she wasn’t going to get me to budge so she stopped complaining.

As we walked out of the office, Ari said, “Where can we go out to eat?”

“I know a place in Lititz where we can have dinner. Tonight is breakfast for dinner night,” I told Ari.

“How long will it take to get there?” Ari inquired.

“About a half hour,” I replied.

“What’s it called?” Ari asked.

“Mom’s Kitchen,” I replied with a straight face.

Isabelle smirked.

“Is it good?” Ari asked.

“Yes, the food is excellent. Mom’s Kitchen has a fully stocked kitchen, a great pantry, and a chef who loves cooking for people,” I answered.

“And we’re going there now?” Ari asked.

“Right now,” I replied.

Somewhere on the highway, as we got closer to home, Ari asked, “How much longer until we get to Mom’s Kitchen?”

I peered down at the GPS. “About 11 minutes.” No, that wasn’t right. I looked again. “Oh, 11 miles, 20 minutes.”

Ari took in the information and compared it with the GPS. “Is Mom’s Kitchen our house?!”

“It is!” Ari said.

“But you said…” Ari groaned. He must’ve realized he was defeated.

“Sorry, dude,” I said. “The good news is that tonight is breakfast for dinner!”

Chocolate Chip Pancakes… Coming Right Up!

Hopefully Ari won’t hold a grudge!

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raising boys · routines · slice of life

Not-So-Stealthy Pics

After a rough start to our morning, I finally had the time to apply some makeup. Ari didn’t want to work on his leprechaun trap, nor did he want to do anything independently. Instead, he took unflattering videos of me while I was getting ready. (He’s done this before.) Every time he finished one, he returned my phone and played it. Most of them were in slow motion, and they were horrible.

You know the phrase, “You can’t fight city hall?” Well, that’s how I felt about Ari taking my phone this morning. I needed to prepare for the day, and he needed something to do. So I continued to allow him to use my phone, which was otherwise locked down.

Here are three outtakes from this morning:

The angles are unflattering.

Apparently, Ari thought my earrings were born so he grabbed me two new choices because, “you always wear hoops, Mommy.”

BUT — I decided to write it since one day I know teenage Ari won’t want to be anywhere near me when I get ready in the mornings. Therefore, I am preserving this morning memory since — as Jess Carey reminded me — our children are growing up quickly.

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rituals · slice of life · sports

From Traps to Brackets

“Do we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?” Ari asked me as he settled into the car after school.

“Not really,” I said.

“Why not?” he asked.

“I celebrated St. Patrick’s when I lived in New York City. My friends and I would go to a bar, watch the parade, or both.”

Why was I telling my six-year-old that I went to a bar?!

“But do WE celebrate it?” He asked.

“It’s not a Jewish holiday. And we’re not Irish. It’s fine if you want to enjoy St. Patty’s Day celebrations with your friends at school. It falls into the same category as Halloween and Valentine’s Day. We can enjoy and celebrate it, but it isn’t our holiday.”

This permission led to Ari talking a mile a minute about leprechauns, breakout boxes, and St. Patrick’s Day. I couldn’t follow much of what he was saying. However, as soon as he finished his snack, he set off around the house looking for items for his leprechaun trap.


Last week was the first I had ever heard of a leprechaun trap. Ari’s teacher sent home a letter asking for a shoe box and other items for the kids’ leprechaun traps. I sent in the requested items without giving them much more thought. But now, my kid with the Hebrew first name decided he needed to build a home-leprechaun trap.

Dutiful parents that we are, Marc and I googled leprechaun traps to arm ourselves with some knowledge so we could help Ari.

As we learned more, I asked Marc, “Does Ari think a leprechaun will visit our Jewish house between March 16th and 17th? Because I’ve gotta tell you, that’s a bit more than I’m willing to do.” Marc chuckled.

Alas, we continued to help Ari gather the items he needed to build a leprechaun trap.


Working on brackets with Ari.

I thought we’d be building a leprechaun trap after dinner UNTIL Marc mentioned we needed to work on our NCAA Brackets before tonight’s game. (Way to give me notice! I like to do a little research before filling out my bracket.) 

Ari overheard that Marc and I have a “betting” situation with the brackets. He got excited and wanted to complete a bracket of his own so that he could compete against Isabelle. After some discussion, the kids decided that if Ari had more points than Isabelle at the end of the NCAA Tournament, we’d go to Rice and Noodles as a family. If Isabelle has more points than Ari, we’ll dine at Green Eggs Cafe as a family. (Neither child likes the other person’s choice of restaurants.)

Next came the bracket creation. Neither Isabelle nor ARi has completed one before, so we helped them. Ari and I worked together while Marc assisted Isabelle. Many of Ari’s picks revolved around states he likes. (As you’ll see from Ari’s bracket, he’s a big fan of the State of Kansas. I have no idea why since he hasn’t been there.)

Once everyone finished their brackets, I photographed all of them. (Isabelle’s and Marc’s brackets are similar. Mine is probably the riskiest, but that’s how I roll.) I explained to Ari that he was not allowed to change his bracket, even though he wrote it in pencil, since what we wrote down tonight sticks.

Ari was so into March Madness that he started watching the Texas A&M-CC vs. Southeast Missouri State game. Ari began to yell at the TV when he saw Southeast Missouri State beating Texas A&M-CC, which he chose. Dear Lord!

That’s when I realized three things: 

(1) We created a monster. 

(2) It’s going to be a long month. 

(3) We should’ve made a leprechaun trap!

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raising strong girls · slice of life · weather

Impervious to the Cold

Did you know sixth graders (and all middle schoolers, while we’re at it) are impervious to the cold?

They’re not, but my daughter likes to think she is. She refuses to wear a hat unless it’s below 20 degrees. Scarf? Same thing as the hat. She usually wears gloves, but not today. Why? Because she’s 12.

Here’s the scene from this morning while we were waiting for her bus to pick her up:

Me: (notices nothing poking out of pockets) Do you have gloves?

A screenshot of today’s weather forecast from Carrot.

Isabelle: No.

Me: Why not?

Isabelle: They’re in my other coat.

Me: You have time to go and get them.

Isabelle: I don’t need them.

Me: Yes, you do.

Isabelle: I don’t.

Me: Your hands will be freezing at recess.

Isabelle: I’ll be fine.

Me: You should really take your gloves.

Isabelle: I’ll. Be. Fine.

Me: (pulls up weather report on phone) It doesn’t look too warm around the time you’re going to recess. I guess you’ll decide if you need to wear gloves tomorrow.

Isabelle: I really don’t need them.

Me: Let me see your hands. (snaps photo) I bet your hands will be dry tonight. So dry that you’ll need Aquaphor.

Proof of well-hydrated hands!

Isabelle: I’ll be fine.

Me: (accepts defeat) Time will tell.

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food · slice of life

The Lox Snob

“What would you like for breakfast?” I asked Ari.

No response.

I didn’t have time to play games this morning. (Thanks, Daylight Savings Time.) That’s when I announced, “If you don’t tell me what you’d like to eat, then you’ll either have to make it yourself or be hungry at Hebrew school. It’s your choice.”

A few minutes later, Ari plodded into the kitchen while I was adding six Splendas (Don’t judge.) to my coffee. He opened the fridge, stood on his tippy toes, and attempted to grab the gallon of chocolate milk.

“You can ask for help,” I told him. “It’s hard to reach all of the way back there when you’re a kid.”

“Thanks,” he mumbled as I handed over the gallon to him. Too bad he’s too young for coffee.

“Do you need a plate?” I asked, ignoring his rudeness.

“Yes,” Ari replied.

I retreived a plate from the cabinet. Then, Ari got to work fixing his breakfast.

First, everything seemed to be going along normally. Ari put an English muffin into the toaster. Then he took the cream cheese out of the fridge.

“Do we have any lox left?” Ari asked.

Lox on an English muffin?! Yuck. But he’s making his breakfast, so who am I to judge.

“We have some of the good lox Bubbe and Zayde brought last weekend. Would you like me to get it for you?”

“Yes!” Ari replied brightly.

My desire to not have my counter covered in fish oil comes before the pleasure of watching Ari make his own breakfast. Therefore, I put the package of lox onto a plate before opening it. I placed two slices on the plate. Then I returned the package to the fridge.

Once the English muffin was out of the toaster, Ari began preparing his breakfast.
It took Ari a couple of minutes to prepare his breakfast. Once finished, he put the cream cheese away in the fridge and tossed the knife in the sink.

Ari placed his cup of chocolate milk, plate with the English muffin with lox, and a napkin on his placemat. He sat down and began eating.

I kept my laughter as I pondered: How many six-year-old American kids crave smoked fish for breakfast?!

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schedules · slice of life · technology

Feed the Meter

Click on the image to enlarge.

I HATE being late. I DETEST rushing. If REFUSE to be late when it comes to picking up my children.

I felt the blood drain out of my face when I attempted to feed the meter on the parking app about 18 minutes before my children’s art class ended, only to find that I couldn’t extend my parking time on the app! Either I’d have to get a ticket or move my car. I was FURIOUS because I had been sitting in the building’s lobby for nearly two hours when I realized I couldn’t feed the meter. And here I was with 20 minutes to spare before they would be dismissed from their classes!

I packed everything strewn across the table and marched out of the building. I power walked to my car, which was parked diagonally across the street from where I was sitting. I reopened my side mirror, snapped a screenshot of the abomination I was viewing on the app, and thought about where else I could park quickly so I could return by noon.

I didn’t grow up in Lancaster, PA. I grew up in the NY Metropolitan Area. We went to Manhattan or Brooklyn most weekends when I was a kid. I remember plenty of meter feeding so we wouldn’t get a parking ticket from parking enforcement. (We’d only move the car if the tires were marked!) Now that we live in the days of digital parking apps and parking enforcement that uses technology, it seems that meter-feeding is a thing of the past.

I had two nearby choices: the Hager Lot or the Prince Street Garage. Seeing as Prince Street was jammed up since Saturday is a Market Day, I put on my signal and pulled into the Prince Street Garage. (Little known fact: I dislike parking garages.)

I walked out the wrong exit from the garage onto Orange Street, rather than onto Prince Street, which gave me an extra block to walk back to my destination. Expletives were rolling around in my head since I was worried I wouldn’t make it back on time. I HUSTLED on the sidewalks saying, “excuse me,” to anyone I passed. (I may have a NY mentality when it comes to feeding the meter, but I walk through life here with Pennsylvania politeness.)

I reached for the door to the school and discovered a line about ten adults deep. “Are you waiting to pick your kid up from class?” I asked the lady in front of me.

“Yeah, but the kids are downstairs yet.”

I peered down at my watch and was greeted with both hands on the 12. THANK. THE. LORD.

I caught my breath, retrieved my phone, and snapped a photo at 12:01 PM.

This evening, I googled “feeding the meter” and found a WNYC piece on meter feeding. While I used to think feeding the meter wasn’t a big deal because one was paying to park, I now understand there’s an allotted time limit. You cannot stay in that area (be it a large zone like we have around Central Market in Lancaster or on a city street in Manhattan) past the time limit. Quite frankly, I think it’s preposterous to make it impossible to buy more time — even 15 minutes extra — on a parking app. However, a rule is a rule… and I’m a rule follower. Next time, I’m heading straight to a parking lot (not the parking garage)!

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animals · food · slice of life

Extra Eggs

Whisking the wet ingredients.

This morning, I took three eggs out of the carton to get them to room temperature about an hour before we baked.

Ari and I made the dough for our Friday night challah this morning. One of his stuffies, Barkey Tucker, helped us.

Everything was going along fine until it was time for me to clean up. That’s when I noticed three eggs sitting on a spoon rest. Two egg yolks and one egg are used in the challah. How did these eggs get there? How were they still on the counter if I had the cracked shells in my hand?

I had gone down to the basement to grab a challah mix. Perhaps Ari entered the fridge and took out three new ones instead of one additional egg for the egg wash. But when I asked him, this is what transpired:

Where on earth did these new eggs come from?

I felt the eggs on the spoon rest when I put them back in the carton. They were warmer than the eggs in the carton.

After Ari’s (and Barkey Tucker’s) denial, I wondered aloud, “Could it be that there were nine eggs in the carton this morning, I laid out three before we ate breakfast, forgot about them, and added three new eggs from the fridge? Do you think I forgot about the eggs I had placed on the counter?”

“Maybe…” Ari replied.

“And you promise you didn’t put the extra three eggs on the spoon rest?

Ari said, “I promise.”

“I need more coffee,” I replied with a chuckle.

Raisin Challah
Challah is supposed to be braided. Since I make gluten-free challah, I use a silicone mold to shape the dough since it’s sticky. This is our finished raisin challah for Shabbat.
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family · siblings · slice of life · writing

Don’t Make Fun of Invented Spelling!

I awoke with a migraine. Once I walked into the kitchen, I grabbed the bottle of Excedrin Migraine and downed two pills.

Both kids were speaking loudly, so I was not amused. Through the chatter I was trying to ignore, I heard that Ari had an envelope ready to be mailed to my mother-in-law.

“I hope it’s not a sticky note letter,” I said. “You know Grandma doesn’t like it when you only send a sticky note in the mail.”

“It is,” Ari replied.

“C’mon!” I replied through the pulsing in my head. I looked at Marc, “You know your mom doesn’t like it when he sends sticky notes. She wants a letter or a picture too. And I agree with her.”

Marc shrugged. (He’s on-call at the hospital this week, so I decided to go easy on him since he was probably thinking about a complicated patient rather than Ari’s too-short note to his mom.)

“Ari, you need to send Grandma a letter on a larger piece of paper or enclose a picture too.”

Ari acquiesced and handed the envelope over to Marc.

“I’m going to open the envelope so you can use it again since it already has a stamp on it,” Marc said.

He stamped that?! Keep your cool, Stacey. Keep your cool.

Once the envelope was opened, Ari removed the sticky note. I read it and was aghast.

“You wrote a sticky note to Grandma asking her to buy you something?!”

Ari nodded.

“Do you think that’s appropriate? Or do you think you should ask her how she’s doing, tell her about what’s happening in your life?”

“Yeah, probably.”

“Go and get a larger piece of paper and try again.”

Ari returned with the small rectangle of white paper you see in the photo above. (I realized I had a slice-of-life story on my hands when this happened, so I snapped the picture at this point.)

“Listen, Ari. You have paper in your desk that you could use. You can draw a picture and write something to Grandma on it. If you do that, I’m happy to send it to Grandma. She’ll love to read your writing and see your picture. But I don’t think she will love getting a sticky note demanding a crane truck.”

“Okay,” he said.

Ari went into the playroom, not to his desk. Maybe I don’t have a slice-of-life story on my hands. I don’t think he’s going to write more.

A few minutes later, as I took my oatmeal off the stove, I called Ari, “Have you eaten breakfast yet?”

“No!” he called back.

“You need to tell me what you want,” I replied.


“If you don’t tell me, you’ll have to make it yourself.” (This isn’t a threat. He likes making breakfast.)

“That’s fine!”

My migraine was dissipating while I ate my oatmeal. When I was nearing the end of my solo breakfast, Isabelle walked into the kitchen. She must’ve heard the commotion over the sticky note to Grandma since she walked over to the counter to check it out.

“Oh, Ari!” she said. “You wrote now instead of new.”

“Isabelle, don’t–” I warned.

“But he spelled it wrong,” she replied.

“You knew what he meant, right?”

She nodded.

“He misspelled Grandma too. He’s using what he knows to create the spelling for words. That’s called invented spelling. It’s a thing.”

“But it’s wrong,” she replied.

“Do you always spell correctly?”

“No,” she said.

“You invent spellings too. That’s FINE.”

“But it says now, not new.”

“That’s it. Come here and let me teach you about invented spelling.”

I pulled up an article about invented spelling that I wrote for We Are Teachers when Isabelle was in Kindergarten. It contains a piece of writing she did at home in Kindergarten. It’s loaded with invented spelling. I showed her the images. When I finished reading the “Invented spelling is an analytical process” section, Isabelle realized she was wrong.

Ari came into the room while I was reading the article. Therefore, Isabelle turned to him and said in a sing-song voice, “I’m sorry baby. I didn’t know what invented spelling was.”

“Really, Iz? He’s six years old, not six months. He’s not a baby.”

Isabelle modulated her voice, so it returned to normal. “I’m sorry I made fun of your writing, Ari. I did the same thing too when I was your age.”

“That’s better,” I told her.

“Ari, do you understand you didn’t do anything wrong?” Other than trying to send Grandma a sticky note asking for a toy.

“Yes,” he replied.

“Good. Now, it’s time for me to do the dishes so we can get out of here.”

Who knows if he’ll write Grandma a proper letter later today…

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