Sunday, June 28, 2009

Off and Running on the First Great Week

Wednesday dawned foggy, gray, and with thick fluffy dark clouds. We felt that we could not stand another day at the swim club with blue patches of sky teasing us for five minutes at a time while we were being eaten up by flies and mosquitoes. Saul went for his last session of physical therapy and when he returned, he, Adele and the girls set the table for lunch. Ken came by himself for lunch and we all had salami omelets while he visited with Mom. We decided to take the girls for a matinee to see the movie, Up, in 3D. We dragged them there, kicking and screaming almost, that they did not want to see the movie because a friend had told them about some bad things in the movie. I insisted that we go because I had been looking forward to seeing it and had waited for them to come so that we could all see it together. They actually really liked the movie and had a great time after all. Izzy polished off a whole large popcorn almost single handed. I really liked the movie, too, and was happy I forced the issue. On the way home, we stopped at Costco to pick up Ensure for Mom, and milk, orange juice, fresh fruit and bagels. While there, we bought the girls slices of pizza and a churro to share for dinner. Then, we went on to Trader Joe’s so that they could pick out boxes of their favorite breakfast cereals for the summer. We all went to bed early in preparation for our busy Thursday before leaving for a weekend in Baltimore/DC.

Being members of the Philadelphia Zoo, we received a card in the mail earlier this month about a pajama party for children after regular hours at the zoo. Our membership allows us to bring three children, so we invited Brenna to come with us. Brenna would not be home from camp before 4:00 p.m. so it was difficult for her to be ready to come to our house before 5:00 p.m., which was the latest we could leave to be at the zoo by 6:00 p.m. in rush hour traffic. Sami had asked me if we could go early to spend some time in the members-only Tree House before the party. Because of all these logistics, we decided to leave for the zoo early in the morning with Sami and Izzy, come home for lunch and a nap, and then return to the zoo in the evening with Brenna. The zoo is available to members as early as 8:30 a.m., but we were not able to get there before 10:00 a.m. It turned out to be a great plan because the weather was temperate and the zoo was not terribly crowded at that hour on a Wednesday. We headed immediately for the Tree House which now has a unique jungle-themed, handicap-accessible carousel installed next to it. After playing in the Tree House and riding the carousel, we stopped to eat some snacks we had brought along in a nearby picnic table area and had some close encounters with geese. We spent time in the Children’s Zoo where Izzy persuaded the attendant to let her hold a very large cockroach while Sami ran away to feed the ducks nearby.

We left the zoo around 12:15 p.m. stopping to have lunch at King Buffet in Plymouth Meeting Mall, which, to the girls delight, had expanded their sushi offerings. We were all in bed for naps by 2:30 p.m. At 4:30 p.m. I awoke everyone, cooked some macaroni and cheese for a quick light dinner and we were on our way back to the zoo by 5:15 p.m. with Brenna in tow. We practically had the place to ourselves. There were special feeding demonstrations of a jaguar, cheetahs, and polar bears. The girls also had an unbelievably close encounter with a peacock opened in its full glory. A part of the video is a bit shaky as Saul and I were trying very hard to control our laughter when the peacock began to shake its feathers and all three girls jumped back in fear at the same time.

Sami and Brenna were itchy to explore on their own in the uncrowded surroundings. Spotting giraffes off in the distance, I told them they could go there by themselves and meet us there. Shortly after we met up with them in front of the giraffes, the two of them bolted off at full speed without approval. Saul and I both yelled to them to stop, but they were too far off to hear us. In desperation, Saul let out his loud whistle, which in earlier years could split your ear drums. He had complained after his stroke that he had lost the ability, but evidently, under duress, it had returned quite naturally. Not only did the two girls stop dead in their tracks, but to everyone’s surprise who had been standing nearby, the two giraffes who had been standing around docilely as giraffes are wont to do, took off at a full gallop towards Saul. He was as surprised as anyone at the effect he had on the giraffes. Everyone begged him to do it again, but I think he was a little cowed (or giraffed?) at the power he had demonstrated. So among his many other talents, we can now credit him with being a giraffe whistler (as opposed to whisperer). The evening ended with an outdoor live concert of a jazz band as the sun set behind them. Only a dozen parents and children were in attendance. On the way home, we stopped to get water ice at Rita’s. We were all in bed by 10:00 p.m.

Stacey had agreed to stay with Mom for the weekend so that we could attend the Caribbean Festival in DC that passes just down the street from Ari’s condo. Randi visited Mom on Friday morning with her two sisters, Sherrie and Lorie. After they left, we packed our bags and left for Baltimore at about 12:15 p.m., stopping again at Bahama Breeze for lunch on the way. They obliged us by accepting a $10 coupon that had expired the previous day. We all had a great time together at lunch. Jess and Alex were hosting a newlywed couple from New York for the weekend, children of friends from the Philadelphia area. They had gone to Baltimore to attend and co-officiate at the wedding of a friend. Ari drove in for Shabbat dinner as well as Alex’s sister and brother, his brother’s wife, and their three children. Again, we were 14 for dinner this week. Alex made a smoked turkey soup, chopped salad, red cabbage salad, steamed rice and two different types of marinated, grilled boneless chicken breasts. Dessert was fresh fruit salad with cinnamon and chocolate babka.

The weather could not have been more perfect for the Caribbean Parade. We found a wonderful, shady spot under a tall leafy tree by the judges stand just down the block from Ari’s condo. I stood almost directly behind the official photographer for the event. The colors and music were a delight to both eyes and ears. The atmosphere was jovial and infectiously lighthearted. After a few hours rest while waiting for the traffic to dissipate, we headed for Rockville, Maryland, where we tried a recommended Taiwanese restaurant from the new “Cheap Eats” edition of the magazine Washingtonian, Bob’s Noodle House 66. The place was in a dilapidated strip mall and was extremely shabby, but the food was well prepared, generous and authentic. We all tried a new food that we had never experienced before, Aiyu jelly, made from the seeds of a particular Taiwanese fig. Ari thought it tasted bitter, but Saul and I both liked it. Cut into tiny yellowish cubes, it was served for dessert as an accompaniment to shaved ice with condensed milk and cane sugar syrup. Also on the side, we ordered sweetened red beans and peanuts.

We drove into downtown Rockville after dinner and decided to see the new Transformers movie. Ari was upset that the movie turned out to be over 2 hours long, at least an hour longer than any of us really wanted. Now, I have seen the opposite of a chick flick.

This morning, I arose at 7 a.m., showered and dressed, and we all headed back to Baltimore. Jess and I left for Haley’s bridal shower at Ooka in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, around 9:30 a.m. while Saul headed home with the girls about 11:00 a.m. During the ride to the shower, Jessica and I had a chance to talk for over two hours with no one else around, a truly rare and enjoyable occurrence. The shower was lovely and unique, with hibachi chefs providing diversion and good food, and friends and family creating the congenial din that surrounded us. Dinner tonight was pizza delivery. We didn’t have the energy left for anything more than tucking the girls lovingly into bed with a “Shmuel” story.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Camp Bubbie and Saba 2009 Begins

Considering where I am this moment, I can’t believe what Saul and I accomplished this week. I was getting really nervous and upset because I was feeling so terrible between the infection in my mouth and the antibiotic I was taking to get rid of it. On Tuesday, Saul drove me the hour-long ride to the dentist after I had been on Clindamycin for 24 hours so that he could work on me. I was not up to making the drive myself. Luckily, the pain turned out to be from an infection under the root of my back-most lower molar and did not involve the tooth itself. After a very painful, but thankfully, 10 minute procedure, we were back on the road home with minimal residual suffering. The dentist reminded me that I was to finish the antibiotic no matter how good I might feel. By Wednesday afternoon, however, as I was trying to put the final touches on a publication, I felt as though I had been kicked in the stomach from the antibiotic. Thursday morning, the dentist gave me permission to discontinue it. The infection seems to be gone. He said we would try a different one if the infection returned. So far, so good.

All this made me worry that I would not be up to preparing dinner for 14 on Friday or fetching my granddaughters from Baltimore for the start of Camp Bubbie and Saba on Father’s Day, not to mention the energy required to entertain two little girls.

Our new aide in caring for Mom, Debbie, started work on Wednesday to cover for Stacey, who was away for several days. Luckily, Mom liked her very much and she was incredibly good and experienced at handling aged and bedridden patients from her nursing home experience. On her first day here, Ken came over for lunch with her son, Steve, who works for Ken, and we all got to know each other over good food at the kitchen table. Adele joined us also and Saul and I got back from a Costco grocery run just in time to put lunch on the table and get Ken and Steve back to work on time. Saul left even before Ken and Steve to keep an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon, who gave him a cortisone injection in the shoulder to finally eliminate the sleep-disturbing pain that Saul has been experiencing for at least six weeks. While the painful right shoulder was responsive to the physical therapy, the left shoulder pain had remained despite all the physical therapist’s efforts. It was finally determined from x-rays and an MRI, that the problem is from a rotator-cuff injury. After a few days, Saul’s pain has finally dissipated.

By Friday morning, I was feeling much better and full of energy. I had finished my publication, begun work on a calendar, and was happy to be puttering around the kitchen with Saul, and towards afternoon, Adele, who had come to help us prepare Shabbat dinner. Saul set up the dining room table beautifully with crisply-folded embroidered napkins for a somewhat crowded 14. Our guests, in addition to the three of us, were Adele, Larry, Irv, Fran, my cousin Ellen, who had come to visit Mom after many years, her daughter, Amanda, Ellen’s significant other, Paul, Larry Shipper, Debbie, Ken and Randi. Beth joined us a bit later in the evening. The menu included warm homemade challah; chilled strawberry soup; cod lamaize; caesar salad; vegetable lasagna; cedar-planked, charcoal grilled, filet of salmon with mustard marinade; homemade potato salad; gezer chai; lemon-verbena iced tea; leftover coconut cake from Yona’s naming, leftover gingerbread doves from Yona’s naming, Presley Bella cake with icing decorated for three birthdays—Randi’s, Irv’s and Fran’s; and sliced fresh peaches, cherries, strawberries, blueberries and bananas with vanilla custard sauce.

Debbie came early on Saturday so that we could attend services on my father’s yahrzeit. Because it had been pouring for days, and Saturday was no exception, services were very sparsely attended. We napped for a few hours in the afternoon. Finally, on Saturday night, Saul’s pain disappeared and he was able to get a good night’s sleep.

Sunday morning, we joined Larry and Adele, Irv and Fran, Erica, Danny, Brenna, Ava, Beth and her friend, Paul, for a delicious buffet brunch at The William Penn Inn. By coincidence, our waiter was the son of Ian, one of three English-born brothers with whom we had worked for many years at both The William Penn Inn and Bentley’s nearby. Ian and his wife were working the brunch also in another area of the restaurant, and Ian stopped over to see us and catch us up with his brothers’ lives.

As soon as we returned, we hit the road for Baltimore. We decided to drive all the way down to pick up the girls for the summer because Jessica had persuaded Ari to join us as well so that we could all have dinner together for Father’s Day. In addition, we were bringing a set of vintage dishes called “Dixie Dogwood” that Saul sold on eBay after our garage sale, to a woman who just happened to live just a few minutes away. We dined at our kids’ favorite Japanese restaurant, Sushi Ya, where they had named a special roll for Izzy when she graduated from preschool. We arrived back home by 10 p.m. to tuck the girls and ourselves into bed.

Monday morning was spent unpacking the girls’ summer clothes and loading everything into their drawers. Their drawers had filled with a number of toys during the winter, so after we emptied the drawers of toys, and loaded them with clothing, we reorganized all the toys in the toy box and closet. From 6 to 7 a.m. in the morning, because I was up early and so were the girls, I answered Sami’s questions about the action figure, Teela, from the old Masters of the Universe series of cartoons. We had found Teela and Prince Adam still in their original packages while preparing for the garage sale. Checking on eBay, I discovered that they were only worth about $9, so I gave them to the girls to open and add to the other characters and related toys we had found. Since I remembered very little about the 1980s series, I Googled Teela and discovered that many Masters of the Universe episodes were available for viewing free on the Internet. They were both rapt sitting together in my office chair watching one of the half-hour episodes that involved Teela. We went to Beachcomber Swim Club after lunch because the sun kept peeking out of the dark clouds and teasing us every couple of minutes. The girls went to a painting class after an hour of swimming. After showers and dinner, we curled up in our pajamas in my bed together to watch the Tinker Bell movie that I had recorded on TiVo.

This morning after breakfast, we cleaned out some areas of the basement because the remaining garage sale stuff was being picked up by an organization called “Impact!” which supports the local senior center. We found some real “treasures” from their mother’s and uncle’s days, such as a pogo stick, a book that we had been missing for years, Bonhomme and the Huge Beast, a favorite Minnie Mouse doll, some dollhouse furniture I had made 35 years ago, a few Shel Silverstein books and many other cool books and games. Saul and I spent an hour in the garage after our leftovers had been donated and were finally able to make space for our SUV again. We made it to the swim club by 3:30 p.m., but only stayed for a little over an hour because the sun was even scarcer than yesterday, and we were being eaten by pesky flies and mosquitoes. After dinner this evening, the girls watched another movie in my bed that I had recorded for them on TiVo, The Pagemaster. While I was blogging, I was hearing so many delighted giggles that I interrupted my writing to watch the end of the movie with them. I hope that, as they sing in Annie, “the sun will come out tomorrow,” but we have been having a great time anyway.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Week with Izzy and Naming Yona

This past week with Izzy has been positively delightful. During our time together, she helped me each day to prepare some dessert item for Yona’s naming ceremony on Saturday. At one point, Jessica told me she had a dream, or nightmare, that I made gingerbread teddy bears in diapers and used real safety pins in the cookies. I already had been thinking about making gingerbread cookies, but couldn’t figure out what to do that would be appropriate for a baby naming. Her dream spurred me to get out my extensive collection of cookie cutters and among them I found a dove. Yona means dove in Hebrew. Izzy was amazingly adept at every aspect of cookie-making. When I left her so that I could sit at the kitchen table with Mom’s social worker, Marion, and discuss Mom’s condition for a while, Izzy continued to roll out the dough to the proper thickness, cut the cookies close together as I had showed her, move the cutout cookies to the baking pan, and re-roll the scraps—very impressive for a five-year-old. I taught her how to make and thin royal icing to just the right consistencies so that I could outline the doves and she could fill them in with the icing. Friday morning we packed up the cookies, extra icing, food coloring markers, and sugar sprinkles and decors, and drove to Baltimore where Izzy and her sister, Sami, decorated dozens of them, each one with its own unique design. I find it remarkable that never for a minute did either one of them show any signs of running out of ideas for the next cookie or repeat themselves on any one of them.

Izzy awoke early every morning, but played with the toys in her room until a reasonable hour before waking us. We watched a series of On Demand Tom and Jerry cartoons over and over while having breakfast together, usually with Mom joining us. Each day, we arranged to do a little something different and fun. One day, we went to Chuck E. Cheeses for an hour. Another, I set up an Elmo sprinkler on the deck so that she could run in an out of the spraying water. We went to Bahama Breeze where she was crazy about the gigantic stack of coconut-crusted onion rings and the black bean soup. We met Ken and Randi for dinner at the Easton Buffet which had as much sushi as Izzy could eat and where they gave her a little pile of caviar all by itself. We enjoyed teaching her, feeding her, cuddling her, amusing her, and telling her stories as we tucked her into bed. It was truly a wonderful week that culminated in Yona’s naming ceremony. I wish there were more photographs of the occasion, but most of the action took place in synagogue and at Jess and Alex’s home on Shabbat, so no photography was allowed.

Stacey stayed with Mom this past weekend so that we could be in Baltimore. For Shabbat dinner at Jess and Alex’s, we were joined by Alex’s parents, Maury and Elaine; his sister Naomi; his brother Aaron and his wife Stacey and their three children, Jacob, Lilly, and Zach; and Ari. Alex made guacamole, lentil soup, sushi, and fruit salad. After dinner, we went home with Ari.

Saturday morning, we arrived at Chizuk Amuno to find our family looking healthy and beautiful, and ready for Alex’s lively children’s service to begin. Yona was asleep in the stroller. Adele and Larry arrived shortly before we were fetched to go into main sanctuary for the actual naming ceremony, around 10:15 a.m. Ken and Randi arrived with Jamie and Presley just as the ceremony began. We were surprised to find the synagogue so packed with people on a June Shabbat. There were hundreds present. The rabbi had wonderful things to say about our children and it was beautiful to behold them standing together at the bimah.

Maury and Elaine and Saul and I remained to greet people at the kiddush luncheon we had sponsored for the synagogue and gather our friends, David and Karen, who live in Baltimore, and Elaine, who drove down for the occasion, to go back to Jess and Alex’s house for the party. Alex, as usual, outdid himself with the delicious luncheon he had prepared, which included whole fillets of the best salmon anyone had ever tasted, a beautiful tossed salad, hummous, baba ganoush, assorted cheeses, deviled eggs, roasted veggies, pasta salad, and other delicacies in great number. For dessert, I made the gingerbread cookies; ultimate carrot cake; Presley Bella marble angel food cake; mini strawberry cheesecakes; mini filled chocolate cupcakes; Yona Rae cake (a three-layer coconut cake); mini cashew pies; chocolate mousse crepes with vanilla custard sauce; and jumbo oatmeal, peanut butter and raisin cookies.

The weather on Saturday was beautiful and not too hot. Everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves and about 60 people attended. After the party, we headed back to Ari’s place and were too tired and not hungry enough to go out on Saturday night. We wound up watching a hilarious movie together called “Noises Off” from the early 80’s with Michael Caine, Carol Burnett, Christopher Reeve, John Ritter, and other famous actors. I don’t know how I missed seeing it back then, but it certainly had me wondering what other treasures I have missed.

Sunday morning, we helped Ari clean up his condo, packed, and headed out for our usual favorite spot for dim sum, Hollywood East CafĂ©, which had just been listed in Washingtonian Magazine as one of the best “cheap eats” in the DC area. We were shocked to find a closed sign in the window and their name signs taken off of the building. The closed sign said that they would be reopening in August in a nearby mall. We ate a satisfying meal at the dim sum restaurant across the street, Good Fortune, which, by the time we left, had filled up with a long line of people waiting for tables who had been as surprised as we were by the closing. We spent the afternoon with Jessica and the kids while Alex watched sports on television after mowing the lawn and assembling a new gazebo (or as Izzy called it, “gazumba”) on the patio. We headed for home around 5 p.m. and arrived about 7:30 p.m., happy, but exhausted.

Mom had a good weekend with Stacey. Her volunteer, Marianne, had stopped in to see her and so had Ken and Randi on Sunday. Adele and Larry had a problem getting home on Saturday, as evidently, the Philadelphia area had had a torrential downpour that left many streets closed, including theirs. After hanging out at a nearby restaurant for a while, they were finally able to reach their home in time for bed as the waters receded.

Stacey requested the day off on Monday to visit with an aunt she had not seen in several years. On Sunday, a gum irritation I was beginning to feel turned into a full-fledged abscess. The dentist cannot work on me until I have been on a strong antibiotic, Clindamycin, for 24 hours. This afternoon, I have a dentist appointment to work on the problem, but I have not been feeling like myself since Sunday. I tried to get work done, but kept getting distracted and losing focus. At 6 p.m. last evening, Saul, Mom and I met with Debbie, the mother of one of Ken’s employees, who will begin working for us on Wednesday.

Many of the remnants of last week’s garage sale are still hanging around the garage and I have to arrange to get them out of here this week. My friend Laura suggested I title one of my blogs “36 Suitcases.” That is how many were listed for tax purposes when we dropped a carload of things at the Salvation Army location nearby. Toward evening yesterday, there was a violent thunderstorm that dropped a load of marble-sized hail on us. I wish the SUV had been in the garage rather than all that junk. Thirty-six suitcases is a great title, but the past week was much larger than that.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Garage Sale Week and Paz B’rina

This has been an unbelievable week with incredible highs and lows. It started with the most surprising coincidence. Just as we were beginning to discuss getting 24/7 help to deal with Mom, Ken called early on Monday morning to tell us that one of his employees, who has been working for him for four years, told him that he spent the weekend helping to move his mother’s things out of her apartment in Ocean City, NJ, and into his brother’s home. His mother is a trained and certified home health aide who had been laid off from her nursing home job and could not afford to continue to live in a resort town where the rent increases every summer season. Monday evening, Saul, Ken and I spoke with her on the phone. Ken asked her what her ideal job situation would be and she responded that she would like to work from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. because she was used to doing night work. It was hard to keep from jumping for joy. She also told Ken that her biggest fault in her work was that she is a terrible cook. To add to the coincidence, when we asked where in the township she would be moving in with her son, it seems that he lives only five to ten minutes from our house. In addition to that, my mother was devastated when she had to sign the papers to sell her car, her last link to her past of living independently. One of Ken’s employees bought the car from us for his mother—guess who? The car, evidently, will be returning to our driveway. Next weekend, she will be officially moving into the area and we are scheduled to meet with her. The next morning after our conversation, none of us could believe the confluence of events that had occurred to bring all this together. If all goes according to plan, Stacey will be able to continue to work the hours that she wants, and we will have someone to monitor Mom at night and on weekends so that we will be able to sleep peacefully again.

Before our revelatory phone conversation on Monday, my friend Roxy came down from Yardley to shop at Costco and join us for lunch. Adele joined us also and we went to a nearby favorite Japanese restaurant called Miraku. Evidently it has been sold to new owners and while the menu was very similar and the food very good, the prices have gone up considerably. The bento box meal that was similar to the one we were accustomed to ordering ran $14 instead of the usual $10. That evening, Ken and Randi met us for dinner at Cheesecake Factory in Willow Grove where we had a delicious and relaxing dinner. The usual hoards of diners who were always waiting in line there seem to have evaporated since last September’s stock market crash, but perhaps it was only because we were dining on a Monday. Two meals out in one day was pleasantly reminiscent of our lifestyle last spring in the days before hospice, Camp Bubbie and Saba, and the economic meltdown.

Tuesday and Wednesday were spent stair-climbing. Who needs a fancy machine or expensive health club membership when there is so much real work to be done? Beth came over and got a workout as well as we carried shelving, and heavy boxes of all sorts of junk, down from the attic and up from the basement for the garage sale. There is so much that we hardly made a dent. At Aunt Ruth’s suggestion, we put an ad up on Craigslist on Wednesday afternoon in addition to our newpaper ads in the local papers, and within a few hours, a number of dealers were here, knocking at our door, and willing to spend lots of time and money going through our old things. The rain was teeming for two days, but we were able to set up a tent on the driveway (which doubles as our sukkah) to house the overflow from a two-and-a-half-car garage. We consider the sale a great financial success. We earned hundreds of dollars getting rid of things that have languished here for many years, in fact, for so many that we had forgotten we still had them. And many people were thrilled to have some of those things at giveaway prices.

Friday evening, Stacey, Larry and Beth joined us for Shabbat dinner. Ari drove up from DC for the weekend and had dinner much later as well. By then, I could no longer hold my head up and excused myself after saying a brief hello to Ari. For dinner we had homemade challah from the freezer and garlic bread from Costco, smoked turkey split pea soup with matzoh balls, iceberg lettuce wedges with homemade Russian dressing, smoked sliced turkey in giblet gravy from the freezer, black and white rice, fresh berries dipped in individual pots of melted chocolate, and oatmeal, peanut butter and raisin cookies from the freezer.

Sunday was the occasion when we officially welcomed Presley Bella into our family with the Hebrew name, Paz B’rina, at Jamie and Andy’s home in Delaware. The ceremony was designed by Jamie using sources suggested by Jessica and was very dramatic, including the washing of the baby’s feet with a special cup provided for the occasion by Jessica. Saul officiated with the Hebrew blessings and I prepared a certificate marking the occasion that was similar to the one given to Jamie at her naming. The sun finally shone brightly on this most perfect spring day. Their home was filled with all the many children of the next generation of cousins, including my three wonderful granddaughters. Saul and I brought Izzy home with us for the week as she is finished with preschool following her graduation last week. Stacey had stayed overnight on Friday and Saturday to care for Mom and to relieve us from the exhaustion of the garage sale and the preparation for the naming ceremony. She had today off.

I don’t know how I was able to accomplish everything that was done today. I made breakfast for us all, cleaned up the kitchen, made beds, hung up clothes, washed and folded two loads of laundry, consolidated the leftovers from the garage sale, took Izzy next door to play on Beth’s swings, made lunch for us all, including Adele, who came to help out for a few hours, cleaned up the kitchen, read 17 emails and brought my computer work up to date, made seven dozen mini filled chocolate cupcakes and a carrot cake with Izzy for Yona’s naming next Saturday, made dinner for Izzy and Mom while Saul attended a Masonic meeting, spent a half hour telling Izzy a “Bubbie story,” singing lullablies including “Puff the Magic Dragon,” and tucking both her and Mom in for the evening, spoke with Ari on the phone while he was on his way home from work, and last, but not least, wrote this blog post. I hope there is some energy left in me for tomorrow after I get a good night’s sleep!