food · friends · slice of life

One Baby Coffee, Please!

If it were up to Ari, he’d drink my coffee every morning. But that’s Mommy Coffee (aka: caffeinated). Ari drinks Baby Coffee, which is 1/10 decaffeinated coffee and 9/10 whole milk with a couple packets of Stevia for sweetness. I don’t keep decaf in the house so Ari only gets to have Baby Coffee when we go out for brunch, which is infrequent.

This morning, my friend Rachel and I kept our old NYC tradition of going out to brunch alive. We invited Isabelle to join us, but Isabelle refused to try the new restaurant we wanted to check out in Hershey. Therefore, we took Ari instead. Naturally, he was happy to go out for brunch since that meant BABY COFFEE!

The line at First Watch was longer than we expected. By the time we got seated, I vowed to order Ari’s food and Baby Coffee as soon as our server came over (which was fast!) so that he could get started with his meal.

A smile spread across Ari’s face when his coffee arrived. Rachel took pictures. I shot video, which included him declaring, “I like coffee!” several times.

Rachel and I drank coffee too. However, I don’t think either of us looked as happy as Ari did while consuming it. You know what we were excited about? The Kale Tonic (aka: green juice) we ordered. That was delicious!

food · friends · slice of life

You had me at macaron!

“I know I can’t bring bagels anymore because you’re gluten-free,” my friend Rachel said. “What are you craving from New York that you can eat?”

I pondered for a moment. During my silence Rachel listed off several ideas. When she said macarons (and then added that there were even better than Ladurée, which she introduced me to in December), I was sold.

This afternoon, Rachel arrived on my doorstep from New York with a warm smile, an ear for listening, am overnight bag, and macarons from Martine’s Fine Bake Shoppe.

Clockwise from top left: Nutella, vanilla, raspberry, & salted caramel.

There’s nothing better than good food shared with a great friend.

food · slice of life

Who feels like chicken tonight?

I typically soak buttermilk roast chicken for two days prior to cooking it. But this morning, I looked in my fridge and realized I forgot to brine the chicken on Wednesday night. Whoops!

I had enough time to get the chicken in the brine before I walked out the door this morning. I’ve made this recipe upwards of 100 times so I don’t even need to look at the recipe for the measurements of the spices. I can prepare the brine and soak the chicken in less than five minutes. Except…

Ari noticed me taking the chicken out of the fridge and declared, “I wanna help make chicken!”

“Oh, you can help next time, buddy,” I said eyeing the clock. We only had twenty minutes before we needed to leave the house.

“Get my helper tower!” Ari commanded.

I ignored the brashness and focused on the time. “Next time. Mommy’s in a rush to get the chicken ready for Shabbat dinner.”

“I wanna help!” Ari said. “Please get my helper tower!”

He was using good manners. If I turned him down — for the sake of time — I’d be chipping away at his desire to help in the kitchen. I looked at the clock again. I had the time to make it happen if I wanted to make it happen. I glanced at Ari’s face. His sweet eyes did me in.

“Let’s get all of the ingredients out and then I’ll get the helper tower,” I said. Ari smiled. Giving in never felt so sweet.

Ari took the garlic out of the vegetable bin. “I like garlic!” he declared. Next, I grabbed the buttermilk. We placed both items on the counter. Then, I gathered the spices. Finally, I went into the other room to fetch his helper tower.

You’ll notice I kept my hand on the container. The last thing I wanted to do was clean up half a quart of buttermilk with spices from my kitchen floor!

While I typically place the buttermilk into the container first, I decided to start with dry ingredients. I handed the extra coarse salt shaker to Ari. BIG mistake. He shook it upside down and salt crystals scattered across the island and onto the floor. “Uh-oh!” he said. “I made a mess!”

I wet a few paper towels and cleaned up. Next, we dumped sugar, pepper, and smoked paprika into the container. I held Ari’s hand over the measuring spoon each time he dumped something into the container since I didn’t want another mess to clean. Next, we poured the buttermilk into the container together. From there, I taught Ari how to whisk the ingredients together. That’s when I noticed the problem. The dry ingredients were stuck to the bottom of the container — despite whisking rapidly. In my effort to keep things neat, I may have messed up the recipe. {Sigh.}

Finally, I cleaned the chicken and placed the pieces in the container. We shook the container with the chicken and the brine together, then placed it in the refrigerator.

“I made the chicken!” Ari declared when we were finished.

“You did, buddy. You helped make dinner.”

Ari beamed. It was worth the mess (and the extra ten minutes).


For those of you who read my other chicken story earlier in the month, you’ll be happy to know that Ari did NOT refer to the whole cut-up chicken as a dog. Whew!

animals · slice of life

A Debbie Kind of Morning

Lynne Dorfman spoils my kids. There, I said it.

Over the past few years that Lynne and I have been writing partners, she has graciously sent Isabelle and Ari presents for birthdays, holidays, and sometimes for no reason at all. She’s given them books, signs, and blankets. But some of the most beloved presents have been the stuffed animals.

Lynne buys the best stuffed animals. Seriously, I dare you to compete with her on this front!

This morning, I was packing Ari a snack. He insisted on having “one pretzel” while I prepared his snack. But that wasn’t all. “Debbie need a pretzel too!”

Do you know who Debbie is? She’s a stuffed ostrich! Lynne gave the ostrich to Isabelle, but Ari adored it so Isabelle bequeathed the ostrich to Ari.

And now, Debbie eats pretzels. (Well, she pretends to eat pretzels. Ari made munching sounds for Debbie and then popped the pretzel in his mouth.)

I needed to take Ari upstairs to brush his teeth before leaving the house. Ari had other plans. He decided to sit with Debbie.

“Do you want me to take your picture with Debbie before we brush teeth?” I asked keeping an eye on the time.

Of course, Ari had another idea. Instead of taking a photo with Debbie, Ari insisted on gathering some of his favorite stuffed animals (All purchased by Lynne, of course!) for a group photo.

Clockwise from bottom left: Debby, Quincy, Ari, Bunny, and Puppy. (The last two need better names!)

Once the photo shoot was over, Ari agreed to brush his teeth. I’ll give you one guess who came along…

Debbie and Ari climb the stairs.
conversation · slice of life

In the Lines

My eyes scanned the Wegmans parking lot for a spot for “parents with small children” spot. I spotted one near the center of the store, which is where Ari likes to park since it’s close to the store’s exterior clock. I pulled into the spot taking care not to come too close to the people who were loading their trunk beside me.
Once I turned off the car, I gathered my reusable bags and placed Ari’s snack bag inside of it. Then, I grabbed my purse and opened my door. I pressed the button to slide Ari’s minivan door open. Once I got everything on my shoulders, I noticed a woman staring me down. 
“May I move over so you can get into your car?” I asked.
“That would be nice,” she replied. 
“I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you were waiting,” I replied honestly,
“I’ll bet you didn’t,” she said hostility. 
I looked at Ari who I was about to unbuckle. I knew I needed to “go high” as Michelle Obama would say. My son was watching. So I said nothing.
“And you parked close too!” the lady snapped.
I looked down at my feet. I wasn’t over the white line separating our spots. I wanted to say that much, but felt uneasy because of her tone.
“I didn’t realize I parked so close,” I said as the woman opened the passenger-side door to her car.
She sneered at me, “I’ll bet you didn’t!” Then she slammed her door.
I looked at Ari who wanted to get out of the minivan. I started to unbuckle him, but I heard the car the woman just got into start its engine. I held Ari back since the woman’s husband reversed out of their spot with intensity. Once they turned into the main part of the parking lot I helped Ari out of his seat slowly. I wasn’t shaking, but I felt frazzled. I looked down at the space between my car and the white line. My size eight foot didn’t fill the entirety of the space. 
I held Ari’s had as we walked into the supermarket. All I could think about was how out of the ordinary this encounter was. Nearly everyone in Central Pennsylvania is outwardly pleasant. I come across rude people so infrequently that it took me well over an hour to shake off the sting of that woman’s behavior towards me.

I parked perfectly fine.
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Drowning My Sorrows in a Green Smoothie

I checked email moments before I pushed the ignition button on my car. An email* I had been waiting for arrived in my inbox. I clicked on it. The message was not one I had hoped for; the words stung my eyes. It took me a couple of minutes to regain my composure before I could drive away. (Thankfully, the eight-year-old in the backseat extended me some grace when I told her I needed to make a phone call rather than turning on Kidz Bop.)

How do you take away the sting of bad news?

When I walked through the door around 5 p.m., I was greeted by a little boy who yelled “Hi, Mommy!” when I walked through the door.

“May I have a hug?” I said doing my best to hold back tears.

Ari wrapped his chubby arms around me and pulled me in. That should’ve been enough, but it wasn’t. Once Ari released me from his embrace, I removed my shoes, grabbed the bottom of the blender, and headed for the fridge. I poured ten ounces of water into the blender cup. Then, I opened the refrigerator door and grabbed the baby spinach. (Click here for the Blueberry Apple Cider Smoothie recipe I made.)

“I wanna smoothie!” Ari said.

“You’ll share it with me,” I told him. (He loves green smoothies as much as I do.)

After Ari helped make the smoothie, he helped me drink it. However, he soon became interested in what Isabelle was doing so he toddled off to play with her. That’s when I realized I was left with a green smoothie and a healthy dose of disappointment.

*= My apologies for being vague. While I share quite a bit about my life, not everything feels comfortable to put out in the world. Before your mind runs wild, the email in question doesn’t have anything to do with work or my kids’ health.

routines · slice of life

Before Nap Time. Before Bedtime.

It doesn’t matter if it’s before nap time or before bedtime. If I’m working in my office (i.e., not the person putting Ari to sleep), he stops by for a hug and a kiss. This evening, my husband offered to do bedtime since I’m swamped with work. Therefore, I heard the start of the usual scenario as the two of them were about to leave the kitchen.

“I wanna hug and a kiss!” Ari announced repeatedly.

Once the gate from the kitchen to the foyer opened, I expected to hear Ari’s feet stampeding. However, just as he reached my office door, he slipped and fell. (Why? Because he insisted on carrying his blanket downstairs after he helped tuck Isabelle into bed this evening.) Once Ari righted himself, his head popped through one of the panes of glass and said, “Kiss and a hug!”

Notice the blanket wrapped around him?

“Of course,” I replied, smiling at this routine I know well.

I opened the door to my office, crouched down, and saw my sweet little boy standing in front of me.

“What’s first?” I asked. “Kiss or hug?”

“Kiss!” Ari said planting a drooly smooch on my lips.

“And now?”

“A hug!” he leaned in and knocked me off of my kneeling stance.

We laughed. Marc snapped a few photos. We embraced again. Then, Ari ended the ritual the same way he always does, “You go in your office now.” What a little drill sergeant.

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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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art · slice of life

Coloring Together

Ari heard my footsteps as I came downstairs. “Hi, Mommy!” he said.

“Hi, Ari!” I answered. “What are you doing?”

“I’m coloring with Isabelle!” he replied.

“I see that,” I said.

“I’m drawing a flower,” Isabelle said.

“I can see that,” I replied.

“I wanna draw a flower,” Ari said.

The coloring continued. A few seconds later, Ari said, “I wanna draw a tushe.”

Isabelle and I started laughing.

“A tushe? Oh my G-d,” Isabelle replied.

slice of life · travel

Homeward Bound

I texted my parents, my mother-in-law, and Marc as soon as my plane’s wheels touchdown at MDT. That’s when I got this text from Marc:

(1) Siri isn’t my friend when I text. (See red marks.) (2) A plane taxiing down the jetway makes an iPhone think you are driving.

Typically, Isabelle is asleep — or in pjs — when I return home from trips. But not today! Today, I am getting picked up by two people. And that makes me happy.

Smiling in the terminal. (Geographical point of reference: Three Mile Island in the background.)

I adore traveling to new places and working with teachers. But I love being home with my family.