slice of life

No, Little People Don’t Go in the Mouth or the Sink.

Ari and I were playing on the kitchen floor. He faced me and said “Ahhhh!” I knew what that meant. He wanted to look inside of my mouth. (I don’t know why, but the kid likes teeth. Maybe it’s because he’s teething. Maybe it’s something else. Who knows? I don’t have time to over-think this one.) I was shocked when I said “Ahhhh!” and he tried to shove on of his Little People into my mouth.

“Little People don’t go in anyone’s mouth!” I said.

He looked serious after the correction. I didn’t want him to be too upset so I lightened the mood with a song. After the song was over, he stood up and said, “Ahhhh!” to me again. Figuring he heard what I said, I opened my mouth. This time, he tried to forcefully shove the Little People person into my mouth.

“Ouch!” I declared. “Little People are for playing. They don’t go in your mouth. They don’t go in my mouth. We play with them.”

I grabbed both of his Little People and demonstrated what to do with them by having them talk to each other on the kitchen floor.

When he said “Ahhhh!” a third time, I grabbed my phone, which was on the kitchen island, and positioned it. How else would my husband believe me when I recounted this story later in the day.

Sure enough, this is what Ari did:


“Ari,” I said. “No Little People in the mouth. Little People don’t go into anyone’s mouth.”

“No-no,” he said.

“Right. No mouth.”

img_7390Seeing as Ari still has a fascination with throwing things in the kitchen sink, he turned around, walked to the sink, and pitched the Little People figurine inside.

“Little People don’t belong in the sink either!”

“No-no,” he said.

So he walked across the kitchen to his play kitchen, grabbed his toy phone, and chucked that in the sink.

And with that, I was speechless. I rose from where I was sitting, snapped a picture of my the contents inside of my sink (which looks creepy considering there are two pieces of cutlery in it waiting to be washed), and chalked this all up to life with an 18-month-old.


slice of life · weather

Snow Baby

Today was not a relaxing snow day simply for the fact that I spent much of it out of my home. I had a medical procedure scheduled for 10:00 a.m. I was determined to get there due to the flare-up in pain I’ve had in my neck/shoulder/wrist for the past three weeks. While I made it there a few minutes early, I spent much of my day white-knuckling my steering wheel as I drove to and from the appointment s-l-o-w-l-y on unplowed roads.

The highlight of my day came after Ari woke up from his nap. Marc and Isabelle were outside building a snowman. I poked my head out the door and asked if they were interested in company. (They were!) Despite my desire to lay on the couch with ice packs, I bundled Ari and myself up and headed outside.

Once we were outside, I realized this was Ari’s first time “playing” in the snow. Initially, he didn’t know how to move or what to do. As the minutes passed, Ari got comfortable playing, walking, and getting gentle sled rides down the driveway. In fact, he didn’t want to go inside for dinner.

I smiled as I removed Ari’s snowsuit, booties, mittens, and hat. Despite being achy, I was thrilled I steeled myself so that I could watch my kids play in the snow — together! — for the first time. It made what was otherwise an exhausting day brighter.

OBSERVATIONS · slice of life

Eye Level

In Christine Hertz and Kristi Mraz’s new book, Kids 1st from Day One, the authors invite teachers to examine their classroom by getting down to a child’s eye level. Once teachers can imagine how their classroom looks — from a child’s perspective — they’re able to make modifications to the space based on what they notice.

I thought about how the world appears from a child’s eye level as I chased Ari around a Starbucks we stopped at on our drive back to Pennsylvania. After he ate (in his stroller since they didn’t have any high chairs!), he walked around so he could stretch his legs before we concluded our drive home.

Ari was fascinated by the bags of coffee and potato chips, which were strategically placed in a young child’s line of vision. He said “hi”to the animals on the coffee bags and carried them around the store. While Ari put the bags of coffee and chips back upon request, I needed to tidy up the displays before we hit the road again.

I rarely crouch down to my son’s level when we are out of the house. However, once I did, I learned places like Starbucks have all sorts of interesting things in a child’s field of vision.

college · friends · slice of life

Playing Hooky from Life

Whenever I go out of town by myself, I’m consulting in a school district, doing a speaking engagement, or attending a conference. My husband and I go away without the kids a couple times a year. But that’s pretty much the extent of my travel sans kids. So, today, I felt like I was playing hooky from my life as a professional and as a mom since I had a day of pure pleasure in Manhattan with two of my oldest friends: Stacey & Marc.

I got into Manhattan a little earlier than necessary so I could walk around SoHo. Then, we met for lunch at Sadelle’s (which has the best freshly-baked gluten-free bagels I’ve ever tasted!). When we saw each other, we enveloped each other in the tightest hugs you could imagine. After all, it’s been three years since I’ve seen Marc (who moved to the East Coast after years in L.A.) and five-and-a-half years since I’ve seen Stacey (who lives in Israel).

We spent hours at lunch. Around 3 p.m. we took the Subway uptown to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We enjoyed several exhibits. My favorite was Public Parks, Private Gardens: Paris to Provence, which was filled with French Impressionist paintings.

Daylight savings time gave us a false sense of time so we walked through Central Park — including the Ramble — in an effort to get to the West Side. Before we knew it, it was after 6 p.m.!

We parted ways a little before 7:00 p.m. We squeezed each other as tight as knots when we said good-bye vowing that we wouldn’t go so long between visits.

Tomorrow I return home and to my usual life. After all, playing hooky isn’t special if you do it often.

I walked a lot today!

siblings · slice of life

Two Here. Two There.

Isabelle has known — for at least three months — I was going to drive to my parents’ house with Ari today. (One of my dearest friends from college is in North America, from Israel, this week so I’m traveling to NYC to see her.) Isabelle has known we’d be back on Tuesday afternoon. Despite this knowledge, she had a tough time separating from Ari this morning.

About 20 minutes before I departed, the good-byes began. Isabelle smothered Ari with kisses on his cheeks and enveloped him in more hugs than I could count. It seemed a little over the top, so Marc loaded Ari into his car seat. Isabelle followed “to keep him company” while I finished loading the car.

A few minutes later, I opened the back door and noticed Isabelle perched in the space between their car seats. She was facing backwards — just like her under-two-year-old brother — reading to him. That’s right. SHE WAS READING BOARD BOOKS TO HIM. (For anyone who doesn’t know, Isabelle loves being read to, but struggles with independent reading due to ocular motor dysfunction.)

“Can you give us some privacy?” she asked as I appeared at the door.

“In a second. I have to put some things back here.” I replied.

She continued reading Hair by Leslie Patricelli to Ari — a book we’d practiced several months ago — quite fluently. I stopped what I was doing and retrieved my iPhone from my back pocket. I pulled it out to take a video, but Isabelle glared at me. Therefore, I snapped a candid photo and gave her the privacy she requested.

* * * * *

Ari fell asleep for an hour once we were 15 minutes into our road trip. All I could think, as I glanced in the backseat, was how it didn’t seem right to have two of us on our way out of town with two family members at home. This isn’t how it ever works. Sometimes I travel for work. Sometimes Marc travels for work. Sometimes Marc and I go out of town together. However, there’s always a set of grandparents at home with the kids. This time, we were split in half and it felt — for lack of a better word — weird.

* * * * *

When Ari awoke from his nap, he babbled in the backseat for a few minutes. However, he suddenly cried “Idd-ee” (That’s how he says “Izzy,” which is what he calls Isabelle.) over and over again. He must’ve noticed he was alone in the backseat so he let his displeasure be known. Therefore, the final 43 miles of our trip were spent with him in tears crying out “Idd-ee” and “lun-shhh” over and over again. Once we got to my parents’ house, my dad had lunch waiting for Ari. Afterwards, Ari found some framed photographs of Isabelle and all was right with his world again.

exploration · slice of life

The Beeping in My House

Lots of things beep in our house. I can usually discern the beeping sounds when I hear them.

  • The dishwasher beeps three times and then stops.
  • The washer and dryer make deee-deee-dee-dee-dee sounds every 20 seconds for ten minutes and then they’ll stop.
  • The oven and microwave timers won’t stop beeping unless someone shuts them off.

The list goes on and on.

This afternoon, Ari and I were eating lunch when the beeping started. I heard it before Ari did. It was a loud and continuous beep-beep-beep sound coming from upstairs. I tried to ignore it. Ari started looking around to see where the beeping was coming from. After ten minutes, Ari got agitated with the sound. “All done!” he declared.

“Should we get your bottle and figure out where that beeping is coming from?” I asked him.

He didn’t say yes, but he made a bee-line for the gate that leads to the second floor of our house. I guess he was as agitated as I was.

We walked up the stairs and the beeping got louder. By the top stair, I realized the sound was coming from my bedroom. Those kids! They always play with our alarm clocks. I bet one of them turned on an alarm!

I closed the gate behind Ari and followed the beeping to my husband’s side of the bed. No wonder I didn’t recognize the sound… it was coming from his new alarm clock! Gah!

I have no doubt Ari or Isabelle accidentally turned on the alarm when they were playing in our bedroom this morning. Now I need to check the rest of the alarm clocks and technology in our house to make sure they didn’t accidentally set any alarms to go off in the middle of the night! (Because that has happened before thanks to my darling daughter.)

slice of life_individual
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slice of life

You’re never too young to learn how to do the laundry.

Isabelle used to watch me load the washing machine around the time she started talking. In an effor to teach her about doing laundry and practice talking, I used to repeat the same three phrases after I loaded the clothes into the washing machine.

Me: First, you add the detergent, which makes the clothes…

Isabelle: Clean!

Me: Next, you add the fabric softener, which gets the clothes…

Isabelle: Soft!

Me: Finally, you add the color bleach, which keeps the clothes…

Isabelle: Bright!

Once all of the liquids were loaded, we started the machine together.

Not much has changed now that Ari is here. He, too, likes to watch me load the washing machine. I’ve still got the same schtick, but he isn’t completing my sentences — yet.

Today, we added one more step to the laundry process. I encouraged Ari to help unload the dryer once it dinged. He was happy to oblige.

As you can see, he needs some practice getting the clothes in the laundry basket.

slice of life

Go Bananas!

My mother never allowed me to eat in the grocery store when I was a kid. Even if we had an item in our shopping cart, she never permitted me to try anything before she paid for it. As a result, I passed on this “You have to buy before you try” mentality to Isabelle. There have been times I’ve purchased a single item before I was finished with grocery shopping — rather than letting her have so much as an animal cracker — so Isabelle would understand, from a young age, that you can’t eat something before you buy it.

Things changed about a year ago when I noticed this sign at our local Giant:


While I am a still firm believer in the “buy before you try” mentality, I’ve allowed Ari to take advantage of the free fruit when we go grocery shopping. In fact, he started signing “more” as soon as we walked into the produce department. At first, I didn’t realize what he wanted more of. (Stupidly, I gave him more kisses, because that was the last thing I did before he signed more. He didn’t want more kisses.)

After shooting in the dark for a minute, I asked him, “Do you want a banana?”

He smiled.

We walked over to the banana display. I grabbed a yellow banana and peeled it for him. But before I gave him the first bite, I said, “This is the sign for banana. Just so you know.”

Happy boy eating a banana!
slice of life_individual
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slice of life

This Is Ari.

Last night was the season finale of “This is Us,” which is probably my favorite show on television right now. I was inspired to create a “This is Ari (at 17 months)” list since I want to remember exactly who he is right now.


  1. Throws things in the kitchen sink.
  2. Climbs on my Pilates equipment.
  3. Removes nightlights that are plugged-in.
  4. Holds packages and admires the people on them (e.g., the Triple Paste baby, the lady on the Land O’ Lakes butter container).
  5. Throws items out of his play yard. (But, as of last night, puts them back in upon request.)
  6. Takes out the bottom book from a pile, thereby sending them all to the floor.
  7. Unrolls toilet paper.
  8. Rubs hands together when he wants to have his hands washed, which is multiple times a day,
  9. Climbs onto the bathroom stool as another means of requesting hand washing assistance.
  10. Disconnects FaceTime calls by pressing the big, red circle.
slice of life · writing

Friendly Letter

Just when I thought I knew what my slice of life story would be about today, I unpacked Isabelle’s backpack and discovered a letter to her cousin, Casey. I smiled when I read it not only because she wrote to someone important, but because I got to see something she did in writing workshop on the day she did it. (That’s one of the curses of doing what I do. The parent in me wants to see everything she writes in real time, but the teacher in me knows that’s not how writing workshop works.)

“Do you want to mail this to Casey?” I asked Isabelle after she reappeared from the kitchen where she washed her hands.

“Yes!” she said, jumping up and down.

“Do you want me to help you address the envelope?”

“Yes!” she exclaimed again.

“Meet me in my office,” I said.

“I’ll go and get a chair,” she replied.


don_t write on kids_ work!
I stuck a sticky note onto the letter since I wanted to make sure my brother-in-law and sister-in-law knew Pafrov was actually Passover. Isabelle asked why I wrote on a sticky note and not on the paper. That’s when I shared a belief with her: I don’t think adults should correct kids spelling on their actual papers.

“Why do you need a chair?” I asked. After all, it doesn’t take that long to address an envelope.


“Because I need a chair to sit in while you’re writing out the envelope,” Isabelle replied matter-of-factly.

Alrighty then.

Once the envelope was addressed, Isabelle requested to put the stamp on it. Then, since I was the only one of us wearing shoes, I walked it out to the mailbox.

A few minutes later, Mike, our mail carrier, drove down the street. (This was early for him since he typically gets here around dinnertime.) He parked his truck outside our house since he was walking some packages up to the front door.

“Thank you!” I called to him from the front door. “I’d walk outside to meet you, but I just removed my shoes.”

“No problem!” he called from the back of the truck.

As he walked up the front path, I asked him, “Did you see the letter in the box?”

“I did,” he said.

“It’s an important one from Isabelle to her cousin.”

Mike, who has known Isabelle since she was a baby, saw Isabelle standing close by. He promised he would get it to New York safely, which made Isabelle smile.

There goes Mr. Mike with Isabelle’s letter to Casey!