Monday, August 4, 2008

Sami's Birthday Weekend

I am enjoying my hectic life right now despite the fact that I am very tired most of the time. I know that in a very short while, it will be too quiet to suit me. Mom's services from Abington Home Health Care have kicked in this time and she likes the nurse who comes for an hour twice a week to help her bathe and change. The physical therapist is a lady who helped her recover from her hip replacement surgery a few years ago. When the nurses are not here, however, she appears to be too weak to go about her normal routine and for the last few days, we have brought her breakfast in bed.

Because the nurse came Wednesday morning, the day of Naomi Taplar's retirement party, she was bathed and dressed and able to attend the party. Naomi Taplar has been teaching religious school at Temple Sinai in Dresher, PA, for 30 years and taught at Adath Jeshurun in Elkins Park for years before. She taught my cousins, Anne and Jaine, and she taught my children as well. Both Saul and I taught alongside her for many years. The group of teachers with which we taught there formed a more-than-professional relationship. We attended each other's simchas and watched each other's families grow up. Naomi grew up in Canada and received an excellent Jewish education about which she was passionate. She is fluent in Hebrew and was able to pass her passion and knowledge patiently on to hundreds of children in three generations. Now in her 80s, she is retiring to Egg Harbor, NJ. The party was arranged and prepared by our friend, Faith Rubin, the educational director at Temple Sinai, and we had a lovely nostalgic evening dancing to the music of Bruce Fagan, and wondering where all the years had gone. Wednesday, during the day, Saul took the kids to the township playground and the pool so I could spend the day on my computer work. Right before we left for the retirement party, Saul's sister called to say that she had placed their mother in an apartment at Lion's Gate Assisted Living in NJ that afternoon. She told him that the facility recommends no t.v. or telephone in the first fews weeks to encourage participation in social activities and acceptance of the new lifestyle. At least he will be able to go to visit his mother now that she is in somewhat neutral territory. Once she has acclimated, we hope to be able to bring her to family functions.

Thursday, I was able to make such progress on my work that I felt comfortable joining Saul and the girls at Beachcombers Swim Club for a few hours in the afternoon.

Friday, we shopped for last minute items for dinner and for Sami's party and worked in the kitchen most of the rest of the day preparing Shabbat dinner and Sami's Beijing Olympic-themed birthday cake. Happily, Ari was able to leave work early on Friday and pick up Jess and Alex early as well. They arrived here to all of our delight by 3:30 p.m. Dinner was both cauliflower soup, which Jess loves, and strawberry soup, which Sami wanted to learn how to make, a large filet of wild sockeye salmon which Alex marinated with herbs from the garden and grilled over hard wood smoke and topped with portabello mushrooms and onions, and grilled veggies and black and white rice. For dessert, we had an assortment of fresh summer fruit--apricots, peaches, strawberries, cherries, lichees, and apples dipped in individual bowls of vanilla custard sauce, and cinnamon buns that Larry had bought on a previous occasion that I had frozen. Larry was not able to join us this week because he was attending a concert by one of Ted's grandchildren downtown. Beth joined us for dinner and although we were all tired, we spent a few hours before and after dinner enjoying Ari's new Wii which he had brought along to entertain us. I had put the chocolate cakes for Sami's party into the oven right before dinner and they began to bake over the edges of the pan and burn onto the element, so we had a few moments of frantic scrambling about trying to handle the problem. As it turned out, the cakes were practically indestructible. I was able to spoon the excess partially-baked batter from the two long loaf pans into yet a third pan and all of the cakes turned out delicious anyway.

Saturday morning, I awoke early, anxious to finish up the color flow sugar decorations I had begun for Sami's cake so they would have a chance to dry. Jessica was up early also and enjoyed finishing them up as I colored and prepared the icing for her. Beth joined us for dinner and also got involved in the preparation of the cake. We all enjoyed preparing it and were very happy with the results. Ari spent the day with friends and attended a friend's party in the evening. When Shabbat was over, I was able to put in a few hours on the computer having taken a nap in the afternoon. When Ari came in at 12:30 a.m. we both went off to bed.

The party began at 11:00 a.m. at Beachcombers Swim Club. We were all up early rushing around to pack up everything we needed to take with us. Ari and Jess went out to buy fresh bagels and ice cream. Beth came over to help us load up the cars. Mom came in Ari's car which we parked right beside the picnic area. It was a beautiful, breezy day, and she insisted on sitting in the car through the brunch of lox and bagels, whitefish salad, etc. Saul had gone a little crazy with a staple gun securing the tablecloths and managed to puncture a full gallon of apple juice which we then tried to tape up with tape from a roll of scotch tape that Beth had given Izzy (she loves scotch tape!). It didn't work, but at least the leak was slow! We were joined by Maury and Elaine Weinberg, Alex's parents, Adele and Larry Abramovitz, (Ken and Randi are away this weekend for a vacation in Cape May) Erica and Danny Graham with Brenna and Ava, Larry Shipper, our friend, Laura Feller, Jamie Parker, and two of Sami's little friends from the swim club, Sarah and (believe it or not), her sister Brenna. Five children and two of them were named Brenna! After the brunch, Ari took Mom back home and rejoined us. We set up camp by the pool, setting the remaining cake on our trusty blue folding table to share with others. Sami passed out Chinese party favor bags to some other friends who arrived at the pool later that included Kung Fu Panda Pez dispensers, inflatable balls and stars, dragon lollipops, jewel tattoos, and yo-yos.

We left for home about 3:00 p.m. after a wonderful, beautiful day. I helped shower all the girls while Jess, Alex and Ari packed and prepared to leave. Then, we sat in the living room while Sami opened her presents. Beth and Erica stayed for dinner so that Brenna would have more time with her cousins. I quickly threw together a dinner of macaroni and cheese and leftover soup and salad. The kids adjourned to the bedroom to play with the Wii. I read to the kids after Brenna left and put them to bed by 7:30 p.m. exhausted. Then, Saul and I showered and were asleep by 9:30 p.m.

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