COVID-19 · post-op life · slice of life

Something’s Off #SOL20

Right around the time schools closed (Was that only a week ago?), Ari began having trouble falling asleep at night. My son, who has always gone to sleep without a problem, began to wail when Marc left his room. He claimed he had to go to the bathroom one more time. He claimed he had to say good night to me one more time. He claimed he had to… Well, you get the idea.

Marc took over Ari’s bedtime routine after my surgery. Since I am still keeping my feet up as much as possible, Marc has tried a variety of things to help get Ari to sleep. He’s done everything from dancing Ari out of our bedroom — which gets a lot of laughs — to leaving his closet light on all night. (That was an epic fail when Ari woke up at 5:45 a.m. the following day since his room was bright.) Even extra bedtime stories haven’t helped!

This evening, in an effort to bring some sense of routine back to Ari, I FaceTimed in for nighttime prayers. Despite my intervention, Ari cried once Marc got ready to leave the room. But, then, he stopped. (Let me be clear, I don’t think I have any kind of magic powers here. I think this was coincidence!)

It’s been ten minutes since Marc shut the door. I think it’s too early to claim success, but I truly hope we’re turning the corner on drawn-out bedtimes.

Once we bedtime returns to normal, we have to determine how to get Ari to sleep in later in the mornings. This kid, who I used to have to wake up in order to get his sister to school on-time, is now waking up between 6:00 – 6:30 a.m. daily. That’s too early when there’s literally NO PLACE we have to/are supposed to go!

Jewish · post-op life · slice of life

Challah Baking and Eating #SOL20

Ari helped for a few minutes.

This morning, Ari and Zayde worked together (Mostly Zayde.) to bake a gluten-free raisin challah for Shabbat. Since the recipe made one challah and six challah rolls, I had the chance to sample one of the rolls in advance of Shabbat.

It. Was. Delicious.

Seeing as I haven’t baked gluten-free challah in over a year (I buy regular challah for my family and gluten-free oat rolls for myself.), I was delighted to have a gluten-free challah baked for me tonight. So, prior to the Motzi, which is the Jewish blessing over the bread, I made an announcement to my kids.

Look at how gorgeous the challah looked when it came out of the oven.

“Rather than mugging the challah from the top tonight, I would like you to tear pieces from the side.”

Isabelle and Ari gave me looks that made me feel like they weren’t going to respect my wishes. (You know that defiant, I’m-going-to-do-whatever-I-want-to-do look!) I thought about pulling out the this-is-the-first-dinner-I’ve-eaten-downstairs-in-three-weeks card, but decided that would be a little much. Besides, they’re nine and three… my feelings have little bearing on their behavior.

“I’m serious. Don’t mug the challah!” (“Mugging the challah” is what I call it when the kids grab a piece of challah from the top of the loaf rather than removing a piece gently from the side so others can slice the leftover challah for French toast the following morning.)

Isabelle recited the Motzi, removed the challah cover, and began handing out the pieces calmly. But, then, Ari lurched towards the challah plate and grabbed a piece off of the top.

Lurching for Challah

“Hey!” Isabelle yelled.

“May I have a piece?” I asked.

No one answered. The kids were too busy tearing off pieces of the challah as if they were ravenous animals. So, I reached over and helped myself to a piece of challah, which was airy and sweet.

COVID-19 · post-op life · slice of life

Pandemic Package #SOL20

Sent package to you today by UPS. Something for Ari, Iz, and you.

Text from Lynne — 3/18/20.

I received an e-mail notification from UPS that a package was delivered this afternoon. I used that as a cue to wrap up the afternoon homeschool instruction.

Isabelle helped me downstairs for what was my first time walking down the stairs on crutches. I instructed her to take the brown package sitting at our front door and bring it to my office. Once we arrived there, I used scissors to remove the packing tape. Next, I discovered three gift bags.

“Which one is mine?” Isabelle asked.

Special Delivery from Lynne

I encouraged her to look for a card or a label. Once she found her name, she opened the ISABELLE bag, which revealed a sweet, stuffed unicorn and some sparkly bracelets. Next, I unwrapped my gift, which was a beautiful scarf I will look forward to wearing once I eventually leave the house again!

Ari was napping so we left his present for him on the counter. After he woke up, Isabelle brought his present upstairs to him. Inside, there were two stuffed animals. He liked both, but was drawn toward the gray and white panda a bit more since he thought it was related to Patchy, who is the stuffed dog Lynne and her husband Ralph bought him for his third birthday.

Moments after opening the present, Ari dashed to his room. He returned to my bedroom, held Patchy the Dog and his new panda (who hasn’t received a name yet) to me, and said, “I think they’re brothers!”

“I think you’re right,” I replied. Who am I to say that a dog and a panda can’t be related?

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COVID-19 · food · post-op life · slice of life

Supporting a Local Restaurant #SOL20

We are fortunate to have a burgeoning food scene in Lancaster. I worry that’s going to be curtailed as a result of COVID-19 since the restaurants in the City of Lancaster are restricted to take-out and delivery only now that Governor imposed stricter guidelines on restaurants (and non-essential businesses) on Monday afternoon. Therefore, nearly every restaurant in the City with an Instagram page has been promoting their take-out and delivery options. Of course, I haven’t been able to take advantage of any of them since I’ve been stuck in bed recovering from surgery.

HOWEVER, I had a wound check (Doesn’t that sound glamorous?!) appointment at 10 a.m. this morning. I had lots of questions since I am worried I won’t be able to get in for my six-week post-op appointment, due to COVID-19 possibly shutting down the orthopedic office. Therefore, we didn’t drive away from orthopedics until it was nearly lunchtime. I decided today was the day to do a take-out lunch from a Lancaster restaurant I hadn’t tried yet. If not now, when?

We picked Silantra Asian Street Kitchen. I wanted to pick Silantra for two reasons. First, I’ve been wanting to try it since we moved to town last summer, but hadn’t. Second, they’ve been giving away toilet paper to folks who don’t have it/cannot find it in the stores and/or can’t afford to stock up. While we’re fine on toilet paper in our house, I appreciate how they’re giving back to those in need during what’s a hard time for their business.

We enjoyed our meal, which we devoured in our car. Here’s what I ate:

As we drove home, I remarked that our gem of an eating town is going to change if COVID-19 keeps businesses closed (and/or requires truncated hours) for more than the two weeks stipulated by the Governor on Monday. I cannot imagine it’ll be safe for us to go back to “business as usual” by the end of this month given that the first case of the novel coronavirus was discovered in our county this morning. Despite the uncertainty, there’s one thing I know for sure: we have to try to do take out orders from independently owned restaurants a couple of times a week to help keep them afloat.

I guess that means I need to think of where we’re going to order out from next!

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art · COVID-19 · post-op life · slice of life

Remote Art Classes #SOL20

Isabelle read aloud to me and then she read independently. We practiced multiplication flash cards together. We took a virtual field trip to the Cincinnati Zoo for their Home Safari. We participated in day one of Writing Camp with Ranger and Hoppy. However, the real highlights of her day came when she was engaged with not one, not two, but three different illustrators’ virtual art lessons.

Since I’m still on post-op bed rest, I had to conduct “Mommy Home School” from bed. And since my duvet cover and sheets are light blue and white, I insisted on Isabelle spreading a beach towel on our bed so she wouldn’t get charcoal and marker stains on my bedding.

Paying Attention to Peter

At noon, Isabelle watched Peter H. Reynolds read The Dot aloud and then watched him create a watercolor dot. Afterwards, she went to her bedroom and created her own dots. Reynolds writes some of Isabelle’s favorite picture books so she was delighted to watch him in person! Plus, she’s excited to visit the Blue Bunny Bookstore once we are eventually allowed to travel again.

At 2:00 p.m., Isabelle and I watched Jarret J. Krosoczka’s “Draw Every Day” live. He led a session on drawing emotions. It went a little fast for Isabelle so we had to keep stopping, rewinding, and pausing so she could keep up with her sketches. Despite her initial frustration with the speed, she said that the Collaboration Chaos drawing we did together was her favorite part of the day. (It was the equivalent of improv, but for drawing.)

Drawing with Jarrett
Listening to Mo

After some outdoor play this afternoon, Isabelle returned for one more art lesson. This one was with Mo Willems whose books Isabelle has long adored. (Isabelle and Ari dressed as Elephant and Piggie for Halloween when she was in second grade. About a year before that, she attended his exhibit at the NY Historical Society. In other words, she’s a big fan.) What a treasure his class was! He doodled, talked about his process, and taught the kids how to draw Gerald. Plus, his tone was soothing, which was the perfect reassurance at a time like this.


OPTION 1: Isabelle seemed to enjoy her first day of home schooling. Upon reflection, I believe it’s because she had THREE art classes today. (That’s like her dream.) When she could’ve had free iPad time this afternoon, she decided to do a third art with Mo Willems. I think that’s pretty amazing.

OPTION 2: I’m not sure whose drawing class(es) we’ll do tomorrow. But one thing is for sure, the KidLit Community is generous! I am impressed by how many authors and illustrators are reading their books aloud, doing online tutorials, creating printable activity sheets, and more. This is why authors and illustrators are my rock stars!

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COVID-19 · post-op life · siblings · slice of life

Home Schooling Starts… Tomorrow! #SOL20

I intended to start “Mommy Home School” today, but then I remembered that Isabelle had a speech therapy appointment at 10:00 a.m. this morning. So, in the spirit of being flexible, I realized “classes” would have to start tomorrow.

That said, we did that “bare minimum” thing I wrote about yesterday. We read together:

Here’s Isabelle reading What If You Had Animal Feet? by Sandra Markle and Howard McWilliam aloud to me this morning.

What an idyllic looking photo, right? Well, yes, but it isn’t representative of how today went.

Ari was a MENACE while Isabelle was at speech therapy morning. We haven’t told him anything about COVID-19 — because he’s too young — but I think he can sense something is wrong since he was wild. (I’ll leave it at that for the sake of not embarrassing him when he reads this as a grown-up.)

So why share this detail, you may ask? I’m sharing because for every ten photos I see of children sitting dutifully by their remote schooling technology on their parents’ Facebook, I see one photo of another mom going out of her mind trying to manage kids during this time of “social distancing.” That 10:1 ratio is not real. Therefore, I’m sharing this information in (a) an effort to keep it real and (b) a way to let anyone whose day wasn’t picture-perfect know that they aren’t alone..

There were some lovely moments of me reading books in bed to the kids. However, when I look back on this day, it’s going to be Ari throwing toy trains at the play room wall (Okay, I’m sharing one detail!) that I’ll remember, not the peaceful read aloud.

PLUS, all non-essential businesses in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania are closing as of midnight tonight. Therefore, my mom took Isabelle out to the art store, to get a haircut, and to grab an ice cream cone this afternoon. (Good thing I committed to going with the flow yesterday when I created that schedule!)

So, “Mommy Home School” will begin tomorrow. I’m sure it won’t all go according to plan… and that’s okay. There’s no playbook for what we’re living through right now. This is going to be a long-game and therefore I’m starting to realize it may take several days to get it right so that we fall into a routine that works for everyone — including the three-year-old who threw those trains at the wall with such delight this morning.

COVID-19 · post-op life · slice of life

Preparing for Mommy Home School #SOL20

This morning, I ventured into my office for the first time since my late-February surgery. I brought Isabelle with me since I wanted to gather some materials for Mommy Home School, which begins tomorrow. But before I had her help me down the stairs to my office, I showed her the schedule I created for her on Friday.

“What do you think?” I asked her. “Let’s go through line-by-line and talk about what may or may not work and why.”

Updated Schedule (I’m sure there will be more updates.)

We looked at the afternoon time, specifically, and realized it needed some tweaking. It was unrealistic for me to ask her to write for an entire hour after lunch when she hasn’t been writing that long in school this year. Therefore, we switched to a half hour. Then, we added in virtual art classes (since we’re going to try Ben Clanton and Jarrett J. Krosoczka‘s classes at 2:00 p.m. this week). She asked for iPad time when Ari wakes up from his nap so I gave it to her with the condition that she won’t spend the time watching YouTube Kids. In addition, I added the line about reading daily for 30 minutes since there are at least two mornings this week where one of us has a medical appointment, which means we may not be able to read at 8:00 a.m. I needed her to understand that while we might have to be flexible with the schedule, reading time would still be mandatory. Because, ya know, it’s the single greatest predictor of future academic success!

Once we made it down to my office, we talked about some of the things we’d need. First of all, we each needed a new writer’s notebook since I’m going to be doing Tammy Mulligan’s Writing Camp with her. I grabbed some new pens and correction tape to go along with our new notebooks. Then, we found a blank notebook she could use for the virtual art classes. Afterwards, I grabbed two books, Writing Radar and Poem in Your Pocket for Young Poets, to keep upstairs with me — just in case I need additional ideas. Finally, I grabbed out Maps so I could show her all of places we’re visiting during our virtual field trips.


I already have flash cards, books, and an iPad upstairs. So I shoved those items into a bag, did some tidying with her help, and made my way out of my office. I don’t know how long I was in there, but it was long enough for my ankle to increase in pain.

Let me be honest… this is not an idyllic situation. I don’t expect her to accept instruction beautifully from me. However, if I don’t try to implement structure from the start, then I worry the next few weeks will be a disaster.

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oral stories · post-op life · pretend play · slice of life

Cletus and Roscoe are back. #SOL20

After I hurt my ankle this fall, Ari took to engaging in imaginative play that involved Cletus and Roscoe (the goats he adores from Oregon Dairy) while hanging out on my bed. We’d take pretend trips to the grocery store. Cletus and Roscoe would take turns driving us there in their shuttle van. (Because all goats drive people around in shuttle vans, of course.)

I don’t know what made Ari think of this a couple of nights ago, but he wanted to “play Cletus and Roscoe” again. This time, Cletus and Roscoe were going to drive us on a road trip. Ari told me I needed to book four hotel rooms: one for the four of us + his three puppies, one for my parents, one for my in-laws, and one — wait for it — for Cletus and Roscoe.

“Cletus and Roscoe get their own room?!”

“Yes!” he declared.

“One king bed or two double bed?” I asked Ari.

“Two doubles,” he replied.

“What if the hotel has two queens. Will each goat sleep in a queen size bed?” I inquired.

“Yes, they will,” Ari replied matter-of-factly.

After a couple of days of me pretending to book hotel rooms, Ari decided to book four hotel rooms for us, both sets of his grandparents, and his goats when we were playing earlier this evening.

“Did you remember to book adjoining rooms?” I asked.

“Hold on,” he told me. Ari put his playing card phone back up to his ear and bellowed “We’d like ad-joind-ing rooms please!”

He paused. A moment later, Ari proceeded to give the pretend reservations agent a credit card number. He listed way more than a sixteen digit card number, in the most random clustering of numbers, which made me laugh aloud. It was exactly the levity I needed today.

I believe the hotel reservation was already made when I snapped this picture.
elementary school · post-op life · slice of life

Creating a COVID-19 At-Home Routine #SOL20

I’ve been spending too much time in bed watching the news. I’ve watched nearly every press conference Governor Wolf and Secretary Levine have held about COVID-19. Therefore, I had a hunch schools would be closed by the middle of next week. This afternoon, the Governor ordered ALL Pennsylvania public schools closed.

Good thing I was prepared — mentally.

I’ll be honest, I am not prepared to recover from surgery while having a child home from school for at least two weeks. (It’ll probably be more like six weeks. That’s not me being a pessimist; it’s me being a realist.) Therefore, I realized we were going to need a schedule since Isabelle, like most children, thrives on routine.

I spent a couple of hours twiddling my thumbs instead of creating a daily schedule doing other things. I noticed a couple of people posted a COVID-19 sample schedule on Facebook so I decided to riff off of it and create one for Isabelle.

NOTE: I’ve seen it listed as being created by “Jessica McHale Photography.” I don’t have a Twitter account for that person so that will have to be a good enough of a hat tip.

I showed the schedule to my mom who thought it looked good, though she did chuckle about how Isabelle could earn a later bedtime. I’ll show it to Marc this evening. I’m sure he’ll be fine with it. BUT, there’s just one problem, which I found out about right before I sat down to write this slice of life post. OUR TOWNSHIP IS CLOSING ALL PARKS UNTIL APRIL 1ST. Heaven help us!

fitness · post-op life · slice of life

At least she’s honest. #SOL20

Eight days ago, I wrote “When Routines Are Off.” Despite that morning going better, it seems Isabelle intentionally went to school with boots, rather than sneakers, on her feet. Why is that a problem? It was a P.E. day.

I wasn’t aware Isabelle wore boots, not sneakers, to school back on March 4th — after I reminded her to wear sneakers for gym — until today. I received a note home from Isabelle’s P.E. Teacher this afternoon. Here’s what it said:

I know Isabelle knows which cycle day is which. She’s quite good at remembering when to wear sneakers, when to return her library books, etc.

I was unamused when I read this since Isabelle knows it’s unsafe to wear anything but sneakers for physical activity. Therefore, I emailed her P.E. teacher to explain that I’ve printed out the cycle calendar, which will now reside by Isabelle’s shoe bin. She’ll have the opportunity to pick the correct footwear the next time she has P.E. However, if she intentionally goes to school wearing boots on P.E. day, then we’ll remove the boots from her shoe bin. Her P.E. teacher sent me a lovely note of gratitude back within an hour of my email.

If there’s one thing I can be thankful for, it’s that Isabelle was honest with her teacher about WHY she wasn’t wearing sneakers. She didn’t lie by saying she had forgotten. She owned up to making a conscious choice to not wear sneakers twice this month. While I dislike the choice she made, I am proud of her for telling the truth.

Have I mentioned how hard it is to be on best rest?

Isabelle adores these boots. There’s no way she’s going to want to run the risk of losing them so I’m quite confident she’ll make the right choice next time she has a P.E. cycle day.