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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food · slice of life

Baking by Myself

Last week, I realized it had been a long time since I had baked with Isabelle. So when I saw Bob’s Red Mill was running a sale, I decided to order some gluten-free baking staples. Despite earning free shipping, the products arrived in two days. Therefore, I knew we’d be able to bake this weekend.

Isabelle and I used to bake with each other constantly. However, once Ari came along, we’ve only baked together twice. (I can’t blame it all on Ari. We have time to bake. The real problem is my lack of self-control. I’m trying to take off the baby weight I gained and the less sweets that are in the house, the better it is for my waistline!)

I announced to Isabelle that we were going to make bread from scratch. I was beyond excited. After all, bread was something I could eat without feeling the guilt, of say, a piece of pie or chocolate chip cookies. However, not long after I told Isabelle about my plan, she told me she didn’t want to bake bread with me.

Once I told her my feelings were hurt, she agreed to bake with me, but said, “I’m not going to eat it.”

This morning, once the yeast came home from the grocery store, I got to work making my own gluten-free flour and measuring the ingredients into the mixing bowl — by myself. That’s right. In the end, Isabelle decided she didn’t want to bake with me. The closest thing I got to a baking partner was Ari staring at me in the kitchen from his jumperoo.

The bread smelled good so, fortunately, Isabelle changed her tune. She asked to try a slice at dinnertime.

If you read yesterday’s slice of life story, then I have a feeling that you won’t be shocked when I tell you she didn’t like it. Her loss. I’m the only one in the house who cannot eat gluten, which means there’s more for me.

Sticky-sticky dough
I sprayed the ball of dough with water, which gave it a great crust.
The dough ball looked more like a matzoh ball to me than bread.
Just out of the oven.
Nicely browned bottom.
Digging into the loaf.
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food · slice of life

Let Me Count the Reasons

At least she drank her apple juice.

The four of us tried a new restaurant for dinner tonight. Isabelle had the choice of cheese pizza, grilled cheese, or bowtie pasta. She picked the pizza.

Her personal pizza arrived before our entrees. Marc cut a section into small bites while Isabelle and I finished playing Hangman. After two bites of pizza, Isabelle decided she didn’t like the pizza. Why? “There’s something on it,” she said. (It was an extra glob of cheese.) After a few stern looks from us, she ate the “globby piece” of pizza.

But then, we heard every excuse Isabelle could think of not to eat the pizza on her plate.

  • “The pieces are so big.” (I asked her to open her mouth wide. I speared a piece and held it near her mouth to show her it would fit inside with no problem.)
  • “It looks like meatballs.” (We reminded her there was no meat on the pizza.)
  • It doesn’t taste right. (Marc acknowledged the sauce was different than other pieces of pizza she likes, but it tasted fine.)
  • “I don’t like it.” (We reminded her this is what was for dinner.)
  • “It doesn’t taste good.” (Marc told her the pizza was perfectly fine since he sampled it.)

In the end, Isabelle dug in her heels and didn’t eat more than three bites of pizza. When we returned home, Marc gave her a PediaSure to drink so she’d get some nourishment. That was it. There was no alternate food provided for her to eat.

Next Saturday night, we won’t be going out with the kids. We’re going to go out — just the two of us. I’m looking forward to a meal with no complaints!

slice of life

Ice Cream Friday Fund

Holding a Check for Ice Cream (She went downstairs immediately and put it in the school-to-home folder in her backpack!)

“My teacher said I only have one dollar left for ice cream,” Isabelle told me about 15 minutes before we needed to leave for school.

“Do you have money for today?” I asked.
“Yes, but that’s it.”
“I can write you a check to replenish your ice cream account,” I tell her. “Let’s brush your teeth first. Then I’ll look at the calendar to see how many Fridays are left in the school year so I will know how much money to send.”
“Okay,” she replied.
“Please put your chocolate milk cup in the sink before we brush your teeth,” I reminded her.
As she walked across the kitchen to place her cup in the sink, I realized Isabelle has a selective memory. She remembered something of importance to her — the fact there was only a dollar left in her ice cream account at school — but neglected to remember to put her cup in the sink. We ask her to bring her dirty dishes to the sink after every meal. Nearly every day she needs to be reminded of this. But the ice cream money running low? THAT she remembers!
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slice of life

Mutual Admiration Society

This morning, I witnessed another magical morning moment.

I was bleary-eyed when I woke up. Ari fell asleep close to midnight and Isabelle woke up before her six o’clock alarm. This means I got less sleep than I needed. I’m going to need coffee, I thought when the alarm went off at 7 a.m., which is the latest possible time I could get up and get Isabelle to school on time. That whole notion of “nap when the baby sleeps” is nice, but I’m back to teaching graduate school, so when Ari is napping, I’m working.

Ari woke up a moment after my alarm went off, which was unexpected. My husband came into our bedroom and asked if I heard Ari crying. (He was downstairs giving Isabelle breakfast so he couldn’t pick Ari up.) I hadn’t. I hadn’t registered anything more than the fact it was 7 a.m. and I was exhausted.

Once I got out of bed and dressed Ari for the day, Isabelle joined us in his bedroom.

“Would you like to stay with him in here or in my room while I get ready?” I asked her.

“In here,” she replied.

I unbuckled Ari from his Nap Nanny and placed him on the floor beside Isabelle.

“I’ll be back shortly,” I said.

I scurried down the hall to put in my contacts, brush my teeth, and wash my face as quickly as possible. Before I got dressed I walked down the hall to check on them.

I peered into Ari’s room and noticed the two of them laying prone, nose-to-nose. Isabelle was whispering to Ari and he was staring right back at her.

“Looks like you two are okay in here,” I said smiling.

Isabelle rolled to her side. “We are.” Then she rolled back and looked at Ari.

“I hope, Ari, that you’re making your sister feel as loved as she’s making you feel,” I said.

Isabelle rolled over towards me again. “He is. He’s smiling at me a lot.”

I walked back down the hall and got dressed. I even put on some makeup. When I returned to Ari’s room, they had shifted, but her hand was resting gently on Ari’s head. Hours later, I don’t remember what she was saying to him, but I snapped a photo (above) of the moment just before I said, “Okay, time to head downstairs to get ready for school.”

These moments. The love I am witnessing. It melts my heart and makes the fatigue fade away. Well, almost. (Strong coffee is what really helps with the fatigue.)

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I think I need a mommy bracelet!

IMG_5418Late last year, Marc asked me if I wanted a new baby bootie charm to wear — like the one I had for Isabelle — to commemorate Ari’s birth. I told him I wanted a new necklace since the birthstones on the bootie scratched Isabelle’s head when she was a baby. I told Marc I’d get back to him with what I’d like (after going down the Etsy rabbit hole in search of MOMMY JEWELRY).

I found a necklace and a bracelet. I sent the links to my husband who did the ordering. A few weeks later, a Russian ring necklace with my children’s names engraved on each ring arrived. I have worn it nearly every day since Marc gave it to me.

Ari is six months old now. He is tugging on everything! (Hence the reason my hair is perpetually pulled back in a ponytail.) We were playing on the floor this morning when he gave my necklace one of the hardest yanks I’ve ever felt. It was at that moment when I realized I need a mommy bracelet.

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Magical Morning Moments

Created with WalaxyPic.

After she’s dressed, after I’ve placed the bow in her hair to hold back her curls, after she’s eaten her breakfast (way too slowly), and after she’s brushed her teeth until they’re shiny and clean, Isabelle has a choice to make. She can play in her play room or help me wake up Ari. Nearly every day she chooses to come into Ari’s room — with me — to wake him up so we can get him ready for the car ride to school.

We enter Ari’s room quietly. Isabelle uses a gentle voice to greet her brother while I take him out of his sleep sack. If we have time to spare, she rocks him in his glider after I change his clothes and his diaper. Then, she sits beside him and holds his hand as I administer his Prevacid (acid-suppression medicine). Sometimes Isabelle takes out a book and reads to Ari as I finish getting ready. Other mornings, like this one, she hugs and kisses him. She tells him, “Ari you’re so loved.” And she means it. He is so loved by all of us.

As an only child, I don’t believe any kid needs a sibling. However, I think Isabelle’s life is richer now that Ari is part of our family. She adores her baby brother. She amazes me every day with how kind she is to him. While I know they will grow up and argue with each other (as all normal siblings do), it is my hope she’ll always care for him as much as she does right now.

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read aloud · reading · slice of life

Questioning Myself (as the Parent of an Emerging Reader)

Every afternoon, after Isabelle gets off of the bus, washes her hands, and eats a snack, we read together. She’s comfortable reading books like this:

But she wants to read Elephant and Piggie books. I have a feeling it’s because many of her peers are reading E&P books independently. A few weeks ago, her teacher and I discussed her taking home I Am Going, which is an E&P book. After a lot of support from me (and about three weeks), Isabelle was able to read I Am Going independently. (I have a feeling a lot of it was memorized due to the repetition.)

Tricky Words Flash Cards
Six weeks have passed since our initial foray into reading E&P books together. We’re about ten or so days into our third one, Happy Pig Day. This one is harder than the previous ones we’ve read since it contains more complex words Isabelle hasn’t encountered yet. Therefore, I made flash cards for Gerald’s part, which is the part she’s chosen to read in this book. We review them prior to each reading of Happy Pig Day.

Here’s a peek into her reading aloud from Happy Pig Day today.

Not bad, right? I cannot tell how much is memorized, but I do know she is self-correcting when she misreads, so that’s a positive thing. 

If I’m being honest with myself, I know this book is too challenging for her right now. However, I believe motivation is crucial, which is why I’m allowing her to read this with a high amount of support from me. Therefore, we’ll continue reading the eight-page books her teacher sends home, as well as the E&P books she wants to read. And, I’ll probably keep second-guessing myself every day.

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medical · slice of life

In Praise of the Snotsucker

Most parents of babies or toddlers will tell you that using the following items on your child is one of the truest expressions of unconditional love you can show (your child).

Ari contracted his first cold late last week. He’s been congested for a few days. He hasn’t been a fan of Boogie Wipes so I called in the big guns this morning.

Fortunately, I had the foresight to buy Ari has a Snotsucker prior to his arrival. (There are many things siblings can share, but this shouldn’t be one of them.) Once I unpacked the new device, I called upon my trusty assistant, Isabelle, to help me with this procedure, of sorts.

Let me be honest, there wasn’t much Isabelle could do to help other than telling Ari about the merits of saline nasal spray. She stood back (& laughed) as I tried to insert the Nosefrida into his nose. He fought me off with his hands and thrashed his body around. Isabelle cracked up while I persisted. In the end, I was able to relieve a bit of Ari’s nasal congestion while providing my daughter with some comic relief (& maybe a shred of empathy for how hard parenting is).

This congested-baby scene ended with an “Ari Sandwich,” which included hugs and kisses for the Ari from his mommy and big sister. And just like that, all was forgiven.

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When the Ride Stops

Isabelle took this photo of us. Pretty good, right?

Michelle Haseltine came to town to spend the day with my kids and me today. Isabelle met Michelle last year (NOTE: The last time Michelle visited it was after the snowstorm of 2016 that dumped almost three feet of snow on us. Funny how Michelle came to town a few days after this year’s blizzard!) and was excited she was coming back for a visit. As a result, Isabelle created a long list of things she wanted to do with Michelle today. Those things included lunch out, exploring the Hershey Story museum, going to Hersheypark (It doesn’t open until April.), visiting the Hotel Hershey, stopping into Chocolate World, and seeing the butterflies at Hershey Gardens. Michelle was only in town for a few hours so we picked three of the items of Isabelle’s list.

After lunch and a stop into the historic Hotel Hershey, the four of us drove to Chocolate World. If you’ve read this blog before (or are friends with me in real life), then you know Isabelle and I have been to Chocolate World over a hundred times. Seriously. (I took her there so she could go on the Hershey’s Chocolate Tour ride — which is free — after nearly every speech therapy visit for over two years!) Isabelle was excited to go on the ride, for which there was a short line. (She’s only been on it about 10-15 times since they renovated it last year!)

Everything was going along fine on the ride until we reached the packaging room. We were facing the mock Kisses packaging line when the ride came to a complete stop. In the 100+ times I’ve been on this ride, it has never stopped! Something was wrong.

Less than 30 seconds later, a voice came over the loud speaker to inform us the ride would not be continuing. We would be escorted off shortly.

Michelle snapped this one while the ride was still in motion.

Isabelle seemed uneasy. I tried to reassure her that everything was fine, but what did I know? Michelle sensed Isabelle’s unease, and — as the writer she is — grabbed a pen and some paper out of her bag and encouraged Isabelle to draw while we waited. And that’s exactly what Isabelle did.

Five minutes passed. Ari was wiggling in the Ergo carrier and Isabelle was getting restless. Finally, a teenager worker with a large flashlight came to our car and said, “You can follow me.”

And so we did. But not before Isabelle declared, “I still want chocolate.” (Ride-goers always receive a piece of candy at the end of the ride.)

We saw other people who had disembarked from their ride cars and followed the Chocolate World workers, all of whom were carrying search lights, to a back door. They lead us through the bowels of Chocolate World. Isabelle was annoyed she couldn’t finish out the ride like normal, but Michelle encouraged her to think about how we were on an adventure, seeing something most people have never gotten to see before. I, for one, was pretty excited for my new adventure!

“I hope there’s still chocolate at the end,” Isabelle told me, unconvinced that the back rooms were as cool as they were.

We wove our way through a few rooms and past lots of chocolate. Finally, we reached an exit door.

There were two adults standing by the exit door who seemed ethereal. Do you know what they were doing? Handing out small Hershey’s chocolate bars!