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.


Ari said...

I went ahead and posted the "Best Of" pics we took at the Caribbean Carnival (not festival).

I forgot to mention to you earlier that the picture of the guy with the horns was featured on Prince of Petworth yesterday...

Stacey said...

Looked like it was a fun weekend.