CONVERSATIONS · elementary school · slice of life

Holding My Breath

Obligatory First Day of School Photo Taken in Front of Our Temporary Home’s Door. Isabelle wouldn’t let me take her photo in front of our house that’s being built since she claimed she wanted two different doors in her third grade photo. As much as I wanted to take her photo there, I wasn’t about to let my desire get in the way of her need.

What’s the longest amount of time you’ve ever held your breath? 30 seconds? One minute? TWO minutes? Today I held my breath for nearly seven hours… and it was hard.

Today was Isabelle’s first day in her new school. It wasn’t just a new school. It was a new school, with new kids, in a new city. Yes, she met a few kids at day camp who would be in her school. Yes, she took a new school tour. Yes, she met her teacher a week-and-a-half ago. But none of those things are the same as walking into a school where you know everyone, which she’s done for the past three school years.

Even though I was holding my breath all day, I had a feeling it was going to be a good day. Every person I’ve interacted with at the school and in the district office has been helpful and friendly. However, what I worried about were the typical parent-of-a-new-student fears. Would the kids in the class be nice? Would Isabelle feel comfortable with the noise level in the cafeteria? Would anyone play with her at recess?

Isabelle was the first child lined up a the dismissal door this afternoon. I wasn’t sure what that meant so I took a few deep breaths. I spoke softly and asked her how her day was. Unfortunately, she started admonishing me, “Why are you talking so slow? Why are you asking so many questions? Why don’t you think I’m okay?” I stayed calm because I have found that a steady demeanor gets better results than matching her frustration.

We walked to the car and she climbed into her seat. Quietly, I looked through her bag to see what she brought home. I acknowledged her empty water bottle and made note of the thick school-to-home folder of “homework for mommy.” I asked her to get seat belted and walked around the car. Once I pushed the starter, I turned around and said, “When you’re ready, I’d like you to tell me how your day was.”

I began to drive after her seat belt clicked into place. First, Isabelle told me about a mini zip line on the playground. Then, she told me lots of random things. I learned that her teacher began reading Charlotte’s Web. We talked about how she already knew that story since her teacher read that book aloud last year. I asked some questions like, “Did you do any writing today?” to which I was told, “I wrote some words.” Oh. My. Goodness. THAT answer didn’t please me, but I continued with my calm line of questioning. I got bits of information that didn’t add up to much. But, finally, Isabelle paused and told me, “I think I’m going to like this new school.”

That was it. I was done questioning. I could finally breathe.

growing up · slice of life

No Big Boy Bed… Yet

We had a plan. Sometime over the summer, we’d convert Ari’s crib into a toddler bed. We’d give him time to sleep in the toddler bed while we were still living in our temporary home. Then, as soon as we moved into our house mid-fall, we’d transition him into a full-size “big boy” bed.

Best. Laid. Plans.

Halfway through the dismantling of the crib, Marc realized some of the parts were missing. He went to our garage to search through his toolbox. He came up empty handed. Then, Marc searched through some boxes we’re storing in the garage. He found a whole lot of nothing.

That meant that the “bed” had to be converted back into a crib.

So much for the big boy bed. It’s going to have to wait until we move — again — in October.

I’m wondering what Ari’s thinking as he’s witnessing the transformation back to a crib again. After prepping him for sleeping in a big boy bed tonight, I’m assuming he must be confused.

routines · slice of life

Naptime for an Almost Three-Year-Old

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

Ari claims he isn’t tired EVERY SINGLE DAY before nap time. Here’s the rub. He IS tired. How do I know? He naps after being placed in his crib midday.

These shenanigans began after we weaned Ari off of his afternoon bottle in June. (I know, it was a long overdue weaning. Don’t tell me he’ll need braces because of this. My friend is married to a dentist. When Isabelle was nearly three, she informed me that nearly every kid these days needs braces and therefore her husband doesn’t think we should be ripping bottles out of kids’ mouths as soon as they turn two.) A couple of weeks ago, Ari’s protests grew more intense so I let him sit on my lap while he drank a cup of milk. That seemed to work until we went on vacation a week and a half ago. (Routines go out the window when you’re road tripping!) Now that we’re home, I offered the milk-in-a-cup routine before today’s nap. Ari sat beside me and drank a bit of milk, but ultimately, he kept telling me he wasn’t tired.

But I knew Ari was tired. Therefore, I took him upstairs, closed his black-out shades, turned-on his white noise, and offered to snuggle with him on his chair.

“I wanna snuggle in your bed!” he told me.

“Not in my bed. On the glider,” I insisted.

Ari acquiesced. (Probably because he was tired!)

“Whatta you gonna do now?” Ari asked.

I remembered another thing I learned when the mid-July nap protests began. I could NOT tell him I was going to do work. He’d rather watch me work than nap. And you know what that means? I won’t be able to work if he’s “watching” me. So, I said, “I’m going to take a nap too.”

“Oh, okay,” Ari replied contently.

I turned Ari towards me and felt his warm-toddler weight snuggle into me. I began rocking him in the glider. Ari’s breathing got heavy quickly. He’s probably asleep. Just to be sure, I rocked him for another ten minutes. When I heard light snoring (and started dozing off myself), I stood up, carried him to his crib (Another thing we need to get rid of… I know! Remember, though, we moved to a new city less than eight weeks ago. I’m trying not to change too much too fast.), and covered him with his blankets.

OVER THREE HOURS LATER, I walked into Ari’s room. He smiled when he saw me. The first thing he said was “How did you sleep, Mommy?”

Waking Up with a Smile & a Question

I giggled. I almost blurted out the truth about what I had been doing. Instead, I played along and said, “How sweet of you to ask, Ari!”

See what I did there? I praised him for his kindness without lying.

language · slice of life

The Things a Two-Year-Old Says…

Not long after Ari learned how to say “Peek-a-boo,” he began to play Peek-a-boo with his stuffed puppies. About a week or so later, Ari started playing Peek-a-boo with the Puppies using his favorite blanket. Soon after, Ari started telling me that “Puppy is peeking my boo.” I had no idea what that meant. The reference to peeking my boo persisted. Ari would put one of the puppies up-close to his face and would say “He’s peeking my boo” every time. I began to worry since it sounded a little naughty. I consulted the Urban Dictionary and was reassured peeking my boo wasn’t slang. After breathing a sigh of relief, I chalked it up to strange toddler speak.

For the past couple of weeks, Ari has been engaged in pretend play with his stuffed puppies. This time, he has the puppy get close to his nose, makes a sniffing sound, and then says, “Puppy’s sneaking me.” Just like peeking my boo, having puppy sneak him makes zero sense. Yet again, I consulted the Urban Dictionary and — thankfully — came up empty handed.

This morning, Ari was in rare form after he called for me from his room. Both of the puppies were sneaking him when I walked into his room this morning. I snapped a photo of this happening since it made me laugh.

One day, Ari is going to grow up and shed all of these silly expressions. But for now, they’re part of his developing language and I’m all for it… as long as none of his Ari-isms show up in the Urban Dictionary!

rituals · slice of life

Does he think my skin is naturally soft?!?!

I was rocking Ari in his glider this evening. I planted a kiss on his forehead.

“Do you have cream?” he asked.

“Yes, I have face cream on my face,” I replied.

“I don’t like it,” he said.

“Since when do you dislike face cream?” I asked.

He didn’t respond. He knows nothing about cream other than the fact that he walked into my bathroom this evening when I was putting cream on my face. He asked me what it was and I told him. I thought nothing of it at the time, but apparently, he didn’t like what he saw or didn’t like the way it felt when I kissed his skin.

I kissed Ari’s cheek. That’s when he dropped a bomb on me.

Face Cream, Kisses, and Laughter

“Don’t kiss me with your cream.”

“Are you serious?” I asked.

“Yes,” Ari replied. “Don’t kiss me.”

I tried to explain why I put cream on my face. I told him that in the future, he’d probably use cream on his face. I went so far as to tell him he’d probably marry someone who’d use face cream some day.

None of that mattered.

“Don’t kiss me!” he told me again. He didn’t say it meanly, but he said it forcefully.

I turned it into a joke. I changed my voice into a baby voice and said, “Don’t kiss me. I don’t like your cream.” Ari giggled. That’s when I knew it was safe to kiss him without making him mad. When I did, he laughed uproariously while trying to keep a straight face every time he said, “Don’t kiss me.”

medical · slice of life

Would you like the funny story or the serious one?

Before I begin, I want to let you know I’m intentionally being vague. If you have read this blog through the years, then you know I don’t disclose my children’s medical information publicly. Therefore, I’ll tell you that Isabelle had a planned procedure at the hospital today. It went well.

THE SERIOUS STORY FIRST (It’s been hanging from my heart all day.)

Isabelle could’ve walked out of the hospital on her own two feet, but she insisted on a wheelchair because she had one last time… the time she couldn’t amble out on her own.

“I’m not going to wait 20 minutes for transport to come when you’re perfectly fine to walk,” I told her.

That’s when the nurse rolled up with a wheelchair.

“Here you go, Miss Isabelle,” he said.

“How did it come so fast?” I asked.

“You’re doing the wheeling. Unless you want to wait for transport.”

“No, I’ll wheel her out.”

Isabelle squealed with delight as she hopped into the seat.

“Hold my purse and this folder,” I told her as I handed Isabelle my things. “I may be your transport, but I’m not the schlepper.”

She groan-giggled and took my belongings. We said our goodbyes to the nurse and walked town the hall to the elevator.

Once we reached the lobby, I overheard beautiful music. “I think that’s a harp,” I told Isabelle.

“What’s a harp?” she asked.

The top of the harp caught my eye. “I’ll show you,” I said wheeling her into the lobby.

We listened for a few moments and then the harpist reached the end of the song.

“What do you think?” I asked her.

“I like it,” she replied.

“Would you like to listen to more?” I asked.

Isabelle nodded as the harpist began plucking his instrument. I wheeled her over to a some couches. Before I could put the brake on the wheelchair, Isabelle hopped up and sat down on the couch, tossing my purse on the empty seat.

My breath caught in my throat as I listened to the music because the harpist was playing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” Tears welled up in my eyes as my mind flooded with thoughts. If the results of today’s procedure turn out as the doctor expects, then Hallelujah will be the word to express the level of gratitude I have. I wrapped my arm around Isabelle, whose Hebrew name praise. “Praise” and “hallelujah” are essentially the same. So there I was, hugging my daughter while listening to gorgeous music in a hospital lobby. Then I thought about the Cohen tune, which is one of Ari’s favorites for me to sing to him at night (though I sing the tune with the words to L’cha Dodi). All of those things — plus a lack of sleep — led to me crying.

“What are you doing?” Isabelle asked as she stared at me in shock. “Why are you crying?”

“Because, I’m just so happy you’re so much healthier today than the last time you had this procedure done. You were so, so sick last time. I think your medicine is helping.”

“You’re crying because you’re happy?”

“Yes,” I said.

“Why would you cry when you’re happy?”

“Sometimes that happens to adults. Adults cry when they’re happy,” I sniffled.

“You have black stuff under your eyes,” she pointed out.

“Mascara?” I asked.

“Yeah, mascara. It’s running down your face,” she said. And with that, she went back to listening to the end of the song leaving me to search for a tissue in my purse that was sitting in the empty wheelchair seat.

NOW, THE FUNNY STORY (which took place about 45 minutes earlier)

“What would you like to eat?” the nurse asked Isabelle. He listed the choices which included everything from graham crackers to Goldfish to applesauce to ice cream.

“Chocolate ice cream please,” she replied.

“Good choice,” he replied.

“Do you have marshmallows?” she asked.

I looked at him apologetically. “She thinks this is an ice cream shoppe.”

“No, I don’t think we have any marshmallows,” the nurse replied.

“How about sprinkles?” Isabelle asked. “I’d like some rainbow sprinkles.”

“Are you kidding me?!!? They have ice cream. No sprinkles.”

That’s when the nurse interrupted me and answered Isabelle. “I think we may have some chocolate sprinkles. Would you like those?”

“Yeah, okay. I’d really like rainbow though,” she said.

I shot her a take-what-they-have look and Isabelle said, “Chocolate sprinkles are fine.”

The nurse disappeared in the back and reappeared two minutes later with a plastic spoon and a cup of ice cream.

“We’re not the greatest ice cream shop in town,” he shrugged. “I have ice cream, but no sprinkles.” He handed the ice cream to Isabelle. I was grateful she thanked him rather than complaining about the hospital’s lack of toppings.

day camp · slice of life

I’m Tucking This in My Desk for a “Rainy Day”

There are many times each week when I wish I could hit the “reset” button on my parenting. It’s rare I feel like I’m getting it right. But yesterday? Yesterday was one of those times when I felt like I might not be falling as far short as I sometimes feel as though I am.

Yesterday, Isabelle and Ari returned from eight days away at my parents’ house. They took my children to their house to give Marc and me the time and space we needed to transition to our new home. (FYI: We moved from Harrisburg to Lancaster on June 21st. My parents knew it would be less challenging to unpack, work, and close on our Harrisburg house without having the kids around. Not only did they take them to their house, but they enrolled both of them — Yes, even little Ari! — in day camp for the week.) It was amazing to have the ability to do what we needed to do without having to entertain and care for our children. My parents deserve a medal. But this post isn’t about them. (Sorry, Mom and Dad!)

My father handed me an envelope not long after my parents arrived at our Lancaster home. “These are from Isabelle’s counselors,” he told me.

Click on the image to enlarge.

I opened an envelope and found two different notes from Isabelle’s counselors printed on note cards. Both were sweet notes expressing how much they’d miss Isabelle since she was leaving the group after just a week. However, inside one of the cards was a index card for Marc and me. The index card not only gave me a glimpse into Isabelle’s life at camp, but one sentence written on the index card turned me speechless. The counselor wrote:

She is one of the most polite kids I have ever met.

Who? My kid? I adore my daughter, but sometimes she can be a bit gauche. (Let me be honest, I did joke around to Marc, later in the day, that I couldn’t imagine how the rest of the kids were behaving if Isabelle was considered the politest.) We teach Isabelle to have good manners in and out of our home, but I don’t always see the transfer of our teaching.

I was touched – truly – that her counselors took the time to write Isabelle notes after a week of knowing her. More than that, I was moved one of them took the extra time to reach out to us — parents living over 100 miles away — to share some reflections about Isabelle. If I could look that counselor in the eyes, I would tell her that her note truly blessed me. When you’re slogging through the daily highs and lows of parenting, it means everything to have someone tell you your kid is treating others kindly. I would never have known if it hadn’t been for her note.

I’ve tucked the notes in my desk drawer. I told Marc I am going to pull out the index card anytime I’m having a challenging parenting day. Because, apparently, I am getting more right than I think I am.

growing up · slice of life

Little Man in a Belt

It was early. Too early for summertime. Regardless, we were up for the day. That’s when Ari surprised me with a fashion request.

“I want to wear a belt,” Ari stated.

“Why?” I asked.

“I wanna wear a red belt!”

Of course he wasn’t going to tell me why. He. Is. Two.

He doesn’t need a belt because his pants fit him thanks to adjustable waistbands. However, I didn’t feel like getting into a battle of the wits before 5:30 a.m. Therefore, I grabbed a pair of jeans from his drawer and found the “red belt,” which was really burgundy, white, and blue. Close enough.

I stood in front of Ari and snaked the belt through the loops. I encouraged Ari to turn a bit after each loop. What did he do every time he turned? Giggled. And I mean BIG GIGGLES.

“What’s so funny?” I asked while feeling a little cranky that putting the belt on couldn’t be quick. (Remember, I hadn’t had coffee yet!)

“I’m wearing a belt!” Ari declared.

I smiled. “Yes you are!”

By the end of breakfast, Ari’s navy shirt was untucked from his jeans and was covered in oatmeal. Therefore, I grabbed a gray shirt — that kinda matched — and put it on Ari. Because, as I told Marc, “There’s no way he’s taking that belt off today!” Marc nodded knowingly.

Right after we changed shirts and retucked the gray shirt, I insisted on a photo. Ari sported his silliest “Cheese!” face and I got my photo.

Uncategorized

A Great Lunch Date

Smiling with Her Lunch

Isabelle and I were out the door early for some medical appointments. My parents spent the morning with Ari so we had the chance to go out for lunch — just the two of us — after her appointments were finished.

“Can we go to that grill place where they have the toys I liked to play with when I was younger?” Isabelle asked.

I knew she was referring to the Chocolate Avenue Grill. It used to be one of my favorite lunch places in Hershey… until I stopped eating gluten in 2015. Now there are about five things on the menu — none of which I really want — that I can eat. However, she asked sweetly… so I said yes.

After Isabelle realized she was a bit too old for the toy bins in the foyer, we continued to our table. Isabelle and I chatted while she colored. She ate all of her food and drank her juice without me nagging her once. It was downright delightful.

Once I paid the check, we made our way through the raindrops to our minivan. Once we were inside, I turned around to check if she was buckled. I was about to say something when Isabelle said, “That was really nice. I liked having lunch with you, Mommy. Just us.”

I smiled. “I know you love your brother. We all do. But Ari is challenging to eat out with these days, isn’t he?”

She nodded.

“Should we do this more in the summertime?” I asked.

Isabelle nodded vigorously.

Therefore, I made a mental note to make sure we have more meals out — just the two of us. We both need it.

motherhood · slice of life

Because of… A Slice of Life Told in Images (Well, mostly with images.)

Because of the email I got from Central Penn Parent, I decided to untether the two of us from our afternoon routine so we could get milkshakes at the Capitol.

If you’ve never had a Farm Show Milkshake, then you won’t understand how awesome it is to find a place where you can have them outside of the eight days that the Annual Farm Show takes place each January. I would’ve happily paid for one, but seeing as they were free it was an even sweeter deal!

Because the event was held in the City of Harrisburg, it took me a LONG time to find parking. After two attempts at parallel parking, I found an easy spot, parked, paid the muni meter, put Ari in the stroller, was on our way.

Because of Ari being in a stroller, it was virtually impossible to find an easy way up to the Senate side of the State Capitol. I tried to find a ramp, but every ramp I found still required me to climb a few stairs, which I didn’t think was wise since I saw ⬇️THIS⬇️ from the street.

This was a small part of the milkshake line. Had I known the line would be SO long, I would never have attempted to go.

Because of my growling stomach (It was 12:25 p.m.) and my $3 investment in a parking spot, I decided to take Ari out to lunch.

My text message exchange with my husband. Once he read the second clue, he realized we were at Home 231.

Because Ari didn’t like the combination of Swiss cheese and cheddar cheese on the grilled cheese I ordered him, we asked to have it remade with cheddar-only.

Because Ari was hungry, he decided to gobble up my soup.

Tomato Basil Soup — hold the bread!

Soup Thief

Because the new grilled cheese took awhile to arrive, my parking meter almost ran out. Apparently, I waited too long to reply and my parking meter expired!

I freaked out when I didn’t get a confirmation about the meter time extension!

Because I didn’t want to get a parking ticket, I asked the waiter to give me a box for Ari’s new grilled cheese. I asked for the check, signed it, and jetted out of the restaurant. I hustled out of the restaurant. A guy noticed me running and cheered me on, encouraging me to “beat the meter.”

I was elated to find a ticket-free window!

Because I had rushed out of the restaurant when my meter didn’t renew via text message I accidentally left my credit card at the restaurant. Thankfully, the restaurant had already put it aside. Whew!

Because of the way today went, I’ve come to realize there’s no such thing as a free milkshake.