You are A Blessing

Harper, today is April 21st, 2021.  You are only 22 months old and Mama died one year ago.  You recognize pictures of her because Daddy has made sure you know her.  I tell you that Mama is an angel in Heaven.  She is.  Tonight you are sleeping at Bubby’s for 2 nights.  Daddy stayed home from work today to be with you.  Our hearts are sad because we miss your Mama so much.  She was sweet and kind with a big smile and you are so much like her.  Your smile lights up a room and we all marvel at your beautiful teeth and your eyes that look just like Mama’s. You are our Blessing.

I love how you are becoming a real person with so much personality.  I love that you are showing your independence and teaching us what you like and don’t like.  I love that you feel safe and confident enough already to ask for what you want and need.  We both love the book Feminist Baby and you are certainly one.  I especially like to ask your opinion by giving you a few choices.  Do you want to wear a dress?  This one or that?  Do you want to choose your outfit?  Which pajamas do you want to wear?  Do you want an egg for lunch or a cheese sandwich?  Peanut butter toast or oatmeal for breakfast?  You are quick to choose and you are very satisfied with your choices.  

When we get dressed in the morning I put you down and suggest you look in the mirror.  The mirror loves you and you love the mirror!!  What a beauty you are.  You were particularly pleased with your pigtails this week.  You appreciate pretty things just like your Mama did.

You are very caring with stuffed animals and your dolls.  You feed them, put them in the high chair or stroller, bath those that are waterproof, put them to bed, cover them up and carry them around.  You are so kind, so gentle and so caring, my sweet little girl.

This was a very special month because Auntie Raya came to Toronto and took you to London for several days.  What a time you had!!!  You loved being with Uncle Ben and with Cousin Oscar too.  Auntie told me you would stand at the top of the stairs and call loudly down to your cousin who you call “Aww”.  Uncle Ben is Bee and Auntie is Raya.  Raya was one of your first very clear words.  You can say your name now and you call me Bubby (which makes me crazy happy).  Auntie took a gazillion photos and taught us all the trick to make you smile – just say CHEESE.

This month I made sure we got out almost everyday and we walk to different parks including the playground.  We got the bird feeder up and the birds are enjoying it as are a few squirrels I think.  My eye is still healing and still has silicone in it so we aren’t driving too far.  On Passover, Uncle Peter and Aunt Paula had us for the second Passover sedar.   While we were visiting your Aunt and Uncle, you sat down at the piano and just started playing as if you had done it your whole life.  That piano was the same one your Mama and Aunt Raya played on.  It was in my home and before that it was in Great Bubby’s house.  It was wonderful to be out for dinner.  Someday that will seem normal to you but now we are over a year in a pandemic. Thankfully, people are being vaccinated and at some point it will be safe to be out again.  I dream of those days and I am making all kinds of plans to show you the world.

This is a month of milestones!  You have gone to the potty several times and you tell us whenever your diaper is wet or you have gone poo.  You point to your diaper and say pee.  Sometimes it means you want us to put you on your potty and sometimes you want to be changed.  Either way you are in charge and lead us to where you want to go.  Your vocabulary is increasing everyday and most sentences are still 2 words but sometimes 3.  You love your books and we read every day.  You are so like your cousin Oscar in that regard. We also discovered that you have motion sickness which is a family trait going all that way back to your Great Bubby who, by the way, will be 100 years in just a few weeks.

Purim, Spring and Oodles of Love

“Oh, Harper Rose Natalie I love you.”  That’s what I just sang to you while I changed your diaper and put you into bed.  “I love your stinky toes and your belly too”……we both laughed at that.  I sang, “ We love you Bubby, Oh yes, we do.  We love your messy hair and your sore eye too. When you’re not happy, I’m blue! Oh Bubby, Bubby, Bubby, we love you!”  You thought that was pretty hilarious as well.  Just a moment ago you were watching Cocomelon (your most favourite show) when you made a big yawn and looked at me and said Doh doh (that’s your soother) and you only get it at bedtime.  You pressed a key on the keypad and shut the computer.  You are like a clock, little one.  First you eat your lunch, watch a little bit of a show and you are yawning (often a big fake one) and off to bed you go.

We went to the park this morning and actually were around other people. Bubby is living on the wild side now that I have had my first Covid 19 vaccine.  This is our second time together at this park but Daddy told me he has taken you there about 4 times.  Guess how I found it???  You led me there.  I put you in the wagon and headed towards a park that I knew of.  To get there I would have walked straight from your house without turning.  When we got to the first intersection, you insisted ( and I mean insisted) that I turn left.  I said ok since it really didn’t matter where we went.  After a few blocks, you pointed left again.  I said ok but I didn’t think we could find a park.  Well, was I wrong!!!  You led us straight into the most magnificent park for children.  The best equipment – all exactly the right size.  You bravely went up every ladder and down every slide.  You had brought a doll baby with you and you sent her down the slides, put her on the swings and on the merry go round.  We went on the teeter totter together.  So much FUN!!  

We’ve got a little agreement going on.  You will take as much as you can get away with.  You will tell me no but once I count to 3, you know I mean business and you come with me without much fuss.  It took us a bit to get to this point but we have an understanding.  You’re pretty cute when you put up one finger and say one – as in one more.  Grandma told a story that you were playing last week with a neighbour’s dog and that they gave you a treat for her.  You put your hand out flat with the treat on it.  You learned that from Grandma’s dog, Murphy who you love a lot.  I am digressing.  You then put up your finger and said one? Apparently you did this several times and the little poodle got 4 treats!!

Harper you are only 3 months away from your second birthday.  Next month it will be a year since Mommy had to go.  You love to point out pictures of Mommy and sometimes I think I see you talking to her.  Daddy makes sure you say Good night and I love you to Mommy every night.  He shows you her photos.  Bubby loves him for that.  You are very, very clever.  You have a great vocabulary of more than 50 words and some have more than 2 syllables.  You are starting to count and one and two are very familiar to you.  You know a lot of colours now.  Blue seems to be your favourite to say and to choose. You are trying out your ABC’s too.

You love to video chat with Auntie Raya – the instant you see her face you break into a big smile.  Very soon you are going to spend time with her, Uncle Ben and Cousin Oscar.  You are going to be one very happy little girl.  Everyone around you is starting to make plans for summer.  Cottages, lakes, maybe pools, farmer’s markets, pony rides, amusement parks, and sunshine fun!!  You also love to chat with Great Bubby Kaye and Regine.  You grab the phone from me and start to show them everything including your Barbie House, your toys, your room -anything and everything.

This past month we celebrated Purim at Bubby’s home.  You and I dressed up in costume and we ate Thai food. You loved the spring rolls and ate a bit of phad thai and a wee bit of mango salad. This summer I hope to show you a world of food and someday, my sweet love, I hope to show you food as we travel the world!!!  So much I want you to see.  Your Mommy loved to travel and I know you will too because you are an Adventurer!  Back to Purim – we had a video party with Auntie Raya and Uncle Ben and Cousin Oscar.  Everyone dressed up.  Being Jewish is pretty cool because there seems to be a holiday around every corner.  With every holiday comes special food and music.  We are now singing Miriam’s Song (singing and dancing and laughing) and Dayenu.  The moment I sang it, you started singing it with me.  It was like you knew it already.  We are ready for our sedar with Auntie Paula and Uncle Peter.  Woot! Woot!

Queen Esther
Queen Vashti

Well I can’t end this letter without telling you about the fact that you often go into cat mode as your Cousin Oscar would call it.  You meow like a real kitten and you also paw at your thighs and take off crawling and meowing.  Daddy heard you the other night at about 11pm.  You cried out and then meowed!!  You went back to sleep.  When I come into your room in the morning, you say hi but then quickly start to meow.  Oooh I love you, baby cat.  

meow

I take a lot of photos of you.  I want a photo in all your outfits.  Now you aren’t running away from me but instead you stop to pose – your poses are more super model than candid shots.  You like to look away with an indifferent look.  One day you ran into the bathroom and sat on your potty and posed.  Hey, little love, I’ll photograph you anywhere.  

Super model pose
Super model on the commode
Super model in the kitchen

Spring is close.  You are loved. Meow!

You Are So Loved

Harper you are now 20 months old and soon you will have your second birthday.  Where should I start? I haven’t written you in 3 months because I have had a lot of trouble with my eye since the end of November.  I had to stay in bed for 12 days and lay only on my rights side and then a few weeks later lay face down for 7 days and then just when we thought it was all fixed, I had to have another operation and lay on my right side or face down for another week.  My eye is healing and sometimes you look at me and say, “eye”?  One day you put your hands over my eyes and I could feel your healing energy.  What a powerful woman you will become! When I’m with you, I take a lot of photos and a lot of videos that will help to me remember and they will be there for you when you get older. Bubby’s memory is not all I might want it to be. I also like to show Daddy, Auntie Raya and Grandma what we are up to by sending them photos and videos everyday.

  On the morning I came into your room after being away for 10 days you literally squealed with delight!  You jumped up in your crib and reached out for me and then hugged me and buried your head on my shoulder.  I have never felt so loved and so wanted.  A second later you also looked around and said Dada?  I said he’s in the shower.  You nodded and snuggled back in my arms.  You are crazy for your Dada and you light up every evening when you hear him coming in the door.  Daddy works in a hospital and because of the pandemic, he always comes in the back door and right into the shower and changes his clothes.  You are in the tub downstairs at the same time – once you hear him and break into an excited smile – you go back to playing with your tub toys and your baby that pees when you feed her.  You are so secure in how much you are loved and in your daily routine.

Waking up from your nap and you love to lounge

You love to cook and you love to eat.  Mealtimes bring a lot of joy to everyone who cooks for you (especially me and Grandma) and to you.  You and I have made bagels a few times – these are easy to make bagels that your mommy loved too.  It is flour with baking powder and salt and Greek yogurt.  We brush them with egg and sprinkle “Everything Bagel Spice”.  You help me put the ingredients in the bowl and mix them up and then put them on the pan and shape them.   This week you helped me prepare all your meals.  You stand on the little step ladder at the kitchen counter.  You put the bread in the toaster, crack eggs, measure  and pour ingredients.  Friday we were making tuna noodle casserole ( noodles, tuna and Greek yogurt) with broccoli.  You wanted to eat the raw pasta but I explained it had to cook so you just gave it a lick and put it down.  When the broccoli was done and chopped in the bowl, you kept sampling it while the pasta was cooking.  Bubby has never loved cooking as much as I do when I am with you.  You were loving pickled beets this week and an arrowroot cookie brings a big smile to your face.

Finished product

You are loving snow and going out to play in.  Daddy took you sledding and you had a blast!  I pull you in your sled and you have taken a few tumbles but you wait patiently for me to set you back up.  We love going over to the church on the corner and playing on their steps and on their lawn but we also have fun in your backyard.  You climb into a space under your slides and then invite me to sit with you.  I explain that I don’t have snow pants and then you always point to yours.  We do sit at your picnic table together and sometimes on the little stone bench.  Someone must have taught you about snow angels while I was away because you like to lay down, look up at the sky and when I said make a snow angel, you did!!

Playing on the church steps
Sitting on your backyard picnic table

Your Unca’ Corey wrote a song for you the night before your Mommy had to leave us. He called it Little One. I played it for you when the album he called “Tov” was released. You loved it. A CTV news reporter decided to tell people all about the song and about our story. You were on the news 2 nights in a row. You looked beautiful in your Ralph Lauren dress and red sweater.

Camera ready. Your first tv appearance and a smile that lights up the world.
Setting up the computer for our online interview.

You are talking up a storm these days.  You chat away to us with lots of expression, inflection and enthusiasm but at this point we don’t know what you are saying.  You and I had a big laugh this week when I copied everything you were saying.  You do have a lot words that are understandable and you often repeat words.  You know several colours especially blue.  When I count to three, you know I mean business.  There are a few times (especially outside) when we are not on the same page especially when it comes to time to go inside or wearing mittens.  We had our first run in (you might say) last week.  You took off your mittens (mitt as you call them) and threw the on the ground.  I said you had to wear them or go inside.  We had a little on and off interplay and I told you I would count to three and if you didn’t put on your mittens we were going inside.  Needless to say – we went inside with you crying.  Inside I explained to you again about wearing mittens and that your hands would freeze without them.  We went back out with your mittens on and that problem has been solved.  You are so clever my baby girl.

You do love all your babies and you hold them, snuggle them, feed them, wash them – you have such a gentle caring and an instinct for parenting.  You love to play with your stove, fridge and kitchen set, plastic food and tea set.  You cook and serve and pretend eat.  We got out the play doh this week and you were busy with that for about an hour. You made beautiful pink bagels and put them in your oven.  You insisted on tasting them so I let you have a little lick (I tried too).  Yuck – you also were not impressed.  Finger paints are another favourite – I don’t say finger painting because there is now way you are putting your fingers in the paint!!  You prefer to use a q-tip, a brush or even a sponge.  I guess that is my fault because I didn’t think to start out painting with our fingers.  I got you a new set of paints with sooooo many colours and we definitely had a lot of fun this week.  

Finger paints with a brush
Playdoh baking

While I was away Uncle Peter and Aunt Paula came to look after you when Daddy went to work.  You have really got to know them well and it makes me so happy to watch you together.  Uncle Peter sits on the floor and plays Barbies with you.  You lead him around showing him all the things you want to do.  They tell me you made them both get up and dance with you.  He let you wash your hands in the sink for 10 minutes.  This is really special Harper.  This pandemic has made our world very small.  There are very few people we can see.  Auntie Raya, Uncle Ben and Oscar have not been able to visit for several months but you haven’t forgotten them and you break into the biggest smile when they appear on the phone screen.  You even hugged the phone the other day.  You haven’t seen Great Bubby since summer when we met outside.  Great Bubby will be 100 years old before you turn 2.  You love to video chat with her and Regine (her caregiver).  You laugh and run around showing them things.

Like most children in your generation – you love your screens – tv, computer and phone.  Your favourite show is Cocomelon.  You totally stop and are mesmerized when it is on.  You also love Peppa Pig, Bubble Guppies and you watch Sesame Street with your Daddy.  You have learned to stop and start a show on the computer and you are constantly using your forefinger on the phone – you know it will do something.  You can get a bit annoyed and press at it frantically which cracks me up everytime.  Hmmmmmm…..what else?  I’m smiling as I write that.  You often put your finger over your lip and say hmmmmmmmmmmmmm.  You have a weekly online music class with Miss Josie from Music Together. You are always excited to see her and say hello.

Music class with Miss Josie

Well, we both love music and we just celebratedTu B’shevat (the birthday for trees) and we sang a lot of tree songs.  “I’ve got a friend who comforts me, I’m a kid and he’s a tree.  We grow……Tu tu tu tu tu tu tu Tu B’shevat!”  You ask for the tu tu tu song and show me the actions.  You also love Miriam’s song by Debbie Friedman.  You point to my tattoo and say Mimi……and I burst into song….And the women dancing with their Timbrels and you dance in your chair. We also planted some arugala seeds for TuB’shevat. We have lots of plans for gardening this summer in your big and fabulous back yard!! I’m so excited.

Planting arugala seeds for Tu b’shevat

I can’t finish without talking about Grandma – she is such an important part of your life and she loves you so much.  Grandma has been driving me back and forth to you for weeks because I couldn’t drive. She came every afternoon to share bath time with you and play for a while before Daddy arrives home.  Grandma spends lots of weekend time with you and helps Daddy with keeping your home clean and organized.  She has you both for dinner every Wednesday and Sunday.  She makes you banana muffins and so much more.  I love how you light up when you see her and run to her every time.  Oh Harper – you are so loved by so many people.  That’s just the way it should be.

Loving Yourself First

It’s Valentine’s Day and it is the 9th one I have celebrated with my wife. Actually I married myself on July 20, 2012 and we /I have been deeply committed and in Love ever since.  This Valentine’s Day I fell back in love with me.  In the past 9 years, we have had heartbreaking losses, celebrated many wonderful occasions and we continue to discover and uncover and excavate who we are together. This year has been horrific – I lost my precious daughter Tovah to cancer during this pandemic. I was buried in my grief, confused, angry, heartbroken, lost, found, held, alone, not alone, supported, unsupported, scared so scared and at the same time hopeful.  

At 58, I launched my website – 60 in the City (well almost) and now I am approaching my 65th birthday.  My dream 7 years ago was to motivate womyn to believe that anything was possible, to believe that we are not our victim story, that we find Joy in the simplest things.  I wrote about marrying myself, about a staycation in this fabulous city of Toronto.  I wrote about traveling for free by working as you go.  I wrote about my home – only 400 square feet.  I wrote about my struggles with weight and with health issues, I wrote about things that confused me like people who don’t cook or older womyn who think they are invisible.  I wrote as I traveled sharing my adventures. I wrote about my grief. This past year I have been writing letters to my granddaughter Harper Rose.  I’m writing her because it fills my heart but also because I am afraid that I will forget as I age – that I will forget the fun and the stories that we are sharing together.

This weekend I found my personal beauty again – pandemic hair, a healing eye and all.  I put on red lipstick.  I put on makeup.  I polished my nails. I got dressed just for zoom.  It is a weekend Kohenet (Hebrew Priestess) retreat. It has been a long time since I saw myself in that light.  Being able to look in the mirror and smile and see me as I see me – feeling beautiful, confident and content.  I have been looking in the mirror everyday for about 10 days and saying a positive mantra and a series of things that I am blessing including my eye and my medical situation.  For 2 ½ months I have been dealing with the retina of my left eye that has detached 3 times causing significant scarring. I had to position in bed for more than 3 weeks – first on my right side, next face down and this last time face down or facing right.   “Bless my left eye, bless my medical situation and ending with I am ALREADY healed, happy, loving, wealthy, successful, confident, physically and emotionally well.  This is my affirmation.”  Every day I felt a sense of joy and well-being returning to me. 

Happy Valentine’s Day, Sweetheart. I love you.

Good Morning, Bunny Rabbit

Dear Harper,

The best part of any morning is stepping into your room, turning on the light and saying Good morning Bunny Rabbit and seeing your bright and beautiful smile.  You turned 18 months on Friday – happy one and a half years. my precious one. Every morning you hand me your stuffed animals one by one.  Good morning Lion, good morning Piggy, good morning Miss Mermaid.  Each one gets two kisses – mwah, mwah and go on the change table.  Then we search for the soother somewhere in your bed or on the floor.  You pop it in your mouth until breakfast is served and then you take it out and set it on the table (where I whisk it away and out of sight until nap time).  At breakfast Bubby sips away at her coffee.  We never get tired of touching my cup and saying Ow! (cause it is hot and hilarious). After breakfast you often watch some Peppa Pig in your wee arm chair but soon you are up and at ‘em.  

You still love the Swiffer and mopping the floors (several times a day).  While at Bubby’s you picked up a new habit of shaking the mats.  Housework is so satisfying and so much fun.  Now you like to stand on a stool in the kitchen and help with cooking or washing dishes. You especially enjoy washing your hands with the movable faucet. In the morning I make your bed and if I don’t – you remind me by pointing at the blankets and you prefer they are laid out flat and not turned down at the corner.  You will straighten yourself if I try to be creative.

Swiffering in the morning. You moved the bench to get under the table.
Kitchen chores

It’s been quite a month- Bubby’s eye had a problem and I had to stay in bed for 12 days laying on my right side and I didn’t see you.  Pooh!  I missed you so much.  We were so grateful that Auntie Paula could be with you instead and Daddy took some days off too.  Grandma stepped in too coming every afternoon.  Wow!!!  What a village of love you have, Kitten.

We had a Chanukah sleepover this week and got to share it with Auntie Raya, Uncle Ben and Oscar on a video chat.  We were supposed to go to London for the whole weekend but we couldn’t because of the pandemic.  Anyway – we ate latkes, oven fried chicken and coleslaw with Sufganiot for dessert.  That’s our family tradition and we had the same meal last year when Mommy was still here.  Mommy made the chicken, Auntie Raya made the sufganiot and she helped Bubby make the latkes.  We opened our presents together and lit our candles.  Not quite like being together but it made Bubby’s heart feel really good!! 

Video Chanukah with Auntie Raya, hilarious Uncle Ben and Cousin Oscar
Opening Chanuakah gifts including your first Chanukiah
Family traditions – latkes, ovenfried chicken, applesauce and sufganiot

You love my little bedroom – we sit on the bed and find so many fun things.  You especially like the back scratcher and although you enjoy a little scratch on your back you much prefer to give.  You look at me and point at my shirt and signal me to lift it up so you can get busy scratching my back.  Lucky me!!!  This time we got into all the necklaces I have hanging – many are mine and many were your Moms.  You put on a few and then kept pointing for more….more….more until you had the perfect number.  A girl needs to accessorize.  We had a hilarious game of peek a boo with you hiding behind your Chanukah Elmo book (both Daddy and I bought you one).  You laughed so hard and it makes me laugh every time I watch the video of you.

Dress up at Bubby’s. You can never have too many.

I took a lot of videos of you this month – the photos and the videos help me remember what to tell you and everyday I send them to Auntie Raya, Daddy and Grandma.  You’ve got a lot of words now and you can tell me what it is you want or don’t want by gesturing and a few words here and there. 

You love playing in your playroom and we spend a lot of time there each day.  You love to colour, to paint or to use markers.  You concentrate very hard on your work but your first love is books.  You have a good sized library already and you can sit and read on your own and when you ask me to read to you, it can easily be 6 books at time.  You know what books you want and you will point until I find the right one – nodding or shaking your head.  Fortunately most of your books are on lower shelves that give you easy access.

You also love your rocking horse, your fancy red car (getting in and out, putting on the seat belt, pretending to drive), your plastic groceries, and your little kitchen.  You cook by stirring things up and then pretending to be eating. Yummmm.

Oh Harper you love music and I know it is a big part of who you are.  Mommy loved music – she loved to sing and to dance and to lip sync and to go to concerts.  We have listened to a lot of different music this month.  You love calypso and reggae, classical, opera and ballet.  But you really love the tunes from your music class (Music Together) and you insist every bath that I play Babv Shark on the phone.  You point at the phone and holding a toy shark say Doo doo.

Classical music always makes you stop and look for a moment.  Calypso has you dancing and usually asking Bubby to pick you up to dance.

We can’t talk about this past month without mentioning the great outdoors and your first snow.  Grandma took you out and you were not too impressed.  There was even a little snowman.  You have grown to appreciate it and snow is one of your words.  You like to hold a snowball.  You love all your mittens that have ears and they make you laugh a little.  We’ve been walking in the alley with all the murals.  Wow! So many with pictures of moose, trees, flowers, butterflies and more.  You point them out to me now.   You like to collect sticks, stones and even snow balls and put them into your wagon or car (usually in the storage at the front).  In your backyard you insist on climbing (with help) to the top of your playset where you always have a big laugh and smile as you peer out the windows.  Then down the slide you go (with help).  We could probably do that repeatedly but Bubby runs out of energy pretty fast. I always say ask Daddy later (teehee).

Your street is being paved this week and Bubby couldn’t park near the house so we had to transfer things using my bundle buggy. You decided to take a ride rather than push it. When you came to sleep over you insisted on helping to carry all the bags. You also felt wearing a mask was important to being a good citizen.

Auntie Paula and I dressed you up in several of your magnificent party dresses and had a photo shoot.  You were mostly on the run but we got some good photos.  We won’t be going to many parties for a while but doesn’t mean we can’t dress up fancy!!! 

What a month as 2020 comes to an end. I don’t think we can ever really explain this year and all that has happened but we know we love you. Kisses sweet love.

Hi Harper Bubby Loves You

Harper in just a few days you will be 17 months old!! You are growing and learning and laughing and loving. This week you had a sleepover at Bubby’s house and tonight you are sleeping at Grandma’s. You love a good adventure and you adapt so quickly because you know how much you are loved. This month was Halloween and you dressed up as Snow White for your online music class with Miss Josie from Music Together in the Village.

Snow white
Snow White and Peppa Pig
Unicorn

There is a still a pandemic and we don’t get to go to places like libraries, community centres or have play dates with friends but we are still having a lot of fun. This past week we went to Riverdale Farm where we saw some different animals. We also had a visit with Aunt Paula and we had a walk in the park with Kenana. On Wednesdays now you go to Grandma’s for dinner and you have your bath there too.

Checking out the turkeys at Riverdale Farm

You still sit on the potty but you haven’t had a pee pee this month but we don’t care, it’s just fun to sit and ask for a piece of toilet paper and give your little potty a flush. You are aware now of when you go poo poo. You have started squatting and once this month you even went inside your castle tent to go poo in your diaper. When I ask if you have poo poo in your diaper you put your hands on your stomach and do a little squeezing action. I admit we have a lot of pee pee, poo poo talk but your Mommy always appreciated a good poo poo conversation.

You still love your food and Bubby delights in you sounds of enjoyment – mmmmmm, mmmmmm, mmmmmm!!!! you love to show your delight with a little wiggle and a big smile and sounds of enjoyment!!!!! You had clementines this month and you really love them. You love fresh fruit and Bubby finds it fun to follow the seasons and introduce you to new ones. Other favourite foods? Eggs (omelettes, hard boiled, fried or poached), cheese ( cheddar or marble slices, herb and garlic creamed cheese, feta and cottage cheese), oatmeal porridge, muffins (pumpkin, almond, and the cornmeal ones that Auntie Paula makes for you, peanut butter sandwiches, You and I were both crazy for some chocolate cookies I made with bananas and almond flour! Yummm. You were having none of the sauerkraut I had you taste and this week you didn’t like shredded raw carrots but you loved the carrots in the chicken soup with matzoh balls. You eat your broccoli and you love sweet potatoes and peas.

Oatmeal porridge
Egg salad on toast
Cottage cheese
Dinner at Bubby’s – hamburger, french fries and peas.

You’ve had a lot of teething issues – you’ve had rosey cheeks and been extra cuddly. You have some very beautiful teeth and an incredible smile.

Big smile photo by Kim Lovell

You are a great sleeper – 12 hours every night and a 3 hour nap every afternoon. I ask are you ready for a nap and you head to your bowl of clean soothers, take one and head right to your bed. You rub your hair, look up at me and wait patiently while I turn on your sound machine and shut your curtains. One week every time I came in your room to get you up, I found your stuffies lined up. One morning I caught you in action.

You still like helping around the house. You like to mop. dust, do laundry and put clothes in and out of drawers.

Mopping the floor, you then bend down to straighten the mat. Bubby’s helper.

Harper, you love books a lot. Lately you can sit on my knee and listen to me read 4 in row. You had me read Alice in Wonderland from beginning to end. You sit right down to read any new book that comes into the house. You play with a mason jar that was your Mommy’s. You can sit quietly putting straws in the little wholes in the lid for a long time every morning. Mommy used the jar for her homemade scrubbing powder. After breakfast every morning you sit in your armchair and watch Peppa Pig while Bubby finishes her coffee. We get a big kick about touching my mug and saying Hot! Owww!

Mason jar and straws

A typical playtime in your play room starts with you playing in your oatmeal/pasta mixture, then your wee refrigerator with the plastic groceries. You pretend to eat and it makes us both laugh when we both have our pretend ice cream cones. You like to colour or paint, build with your blocks, play a little hockey, get in and out of your little red car and when you are done you start up the stairs signaling me that we are done.

playtime mixture of pastas, oatmeal and rice
Picasso
What?? Daddy brought my little red car inside???

What makes you laugh? When I eat your toes every time I change your diaper. When I chase you calling out that I am the tickle monster. When I get on my hands and knees and crawl after you. You have a big hearty delicious laugh that makes my heart sing. This month we had a professional photo shoot with Kim Lovell. What a gift!!!

We love to get outside everyday for a good walk – sometimes we drive to a park, often play in your fabulous back yard or walk in your neighbourhood and go to one of the many parks. You love running after squirrels. You like to pick up twigs, stones and leaves. You like to smell flowers. Actually you love smelling things. Your mommy had an incredible sense of smell. Maybe you will too!

A Letter to Harper

It is October 10, 2020 and tomorrow you will be 16 months old.  Your Mommy got sick and had to leave us just months ago.  I have been helping to take care of you and now Daddy is back at work and we have been together 5 days a week from 7am until 5pm.  These are the most precious hours of every day for me.  I love you so much.

We are having a lot of fun together – we laugh a lot, hug a lot and there are a lot of kisses!!  Yummmm!!  We often take a car ride to parks and sometimes take a social distance walk with friends.  

This week you learned to smell – your favourite book is Pat the Bunny and you like to smell the flowers on one of the pages.   You can read this book on your own because you know it so well.  Pat the bunny, peek a boo, smell the flowers, look in the mirror and read the book.  We found a candle that I gave your Mommy on a shelf behind a picture and you loved the smell so much, you licked it.  It’s Spartaberry from Sparta Candles and I absolutely love the scent too.  At the park you were picking and smelling flowers.You love Peek-a-boo.  It’s sure to make you smile and laugh.  You have a few other favourites and these past few days you really want to read a lot.

You learned to colour this week.  I have started a craft basket for you.  You like to hold a few crayons at time after you empty out the whole the box, colour a bit  while watching me closely and then you start putting the crayons back in the box.  I think you are learning some tidying up tricks from your Bubby because you like to take things out of their storage box and then put them back.  You are learning early that Bubby doesn’t like clutter.  Your favourite things are your musical instruments, your Lego Duplo blocks, your crayons and sketch pad, books, your toy kitty that meows and walks,  and that Bunny that sings “Do Your Ears Hang Low”.  You like to help me fold the laundry and put clothes in your dresser drawers.  Yesterday you took the laundry basket and started up the stairs with it.  You are my best Helper!! 

Auntie Paula went to the Rosetta McLean park with you and I this week.  When we got home there were 2 parcels at the door and Auntie Paula asked you if you could pick them up for Bubby.  You bent down, picked them up and carried them into the house and then passed them to me. You are so clever my little bunny.  You understand everything.  When I ask if you are hungry, you head to your high chair.  Is your diaper wet? You head to your change table. Ready to go out? Off you go the door?  Want to play downstairs? You go to the basement door.  Outdoor shoes? Indoor shoes? You sit down to get them on.  Well you usually start putting them on yourself.  Want to watch cartoons? You sit in your arm chair and get comfortable.  I am so proud of you as you learn and learn and learn!!

We had our first music class this season with Josie from “Music Together”.  Thanks Josie so much for gifting us this session.  When you were a teeny baby Mommy took you to their Sticks program and this time we are in the Bongo one. Fun!!!  You love to dance and now are learning to sing too,  In the tub you line your little fish up and then get them to dance and you sing do, do, do (Baby Shark).  Unfortunately Auntie Raya says Bubby does not have the correct melody or beat down but we don’t care and Auntie is promising to buy us the CD!  Your Mommy loved to dance to all kinds of music.  Auntie Raya remembers her always dancing and singing.  Leanne remembers Mommy dancing as she got ready to go out and then when she arrived at the party.  Jasmin told Bubby “YES she loved to dance!!! Whether it was being silly and singing in the kitchen, lip syncing in the car, or dancing while laying in bed with her legs in the air! Also had so much fun getting all dressed up and dancing at night clubs (back in the day! Ha!). So many memories dancing together.” One New Year’s Eve Mommy’s wish for everyone was Health,Happiness and Dancing.  She’d be very happy to see you dancing and singing.  We will do more and more. There are so many videos of Mommy dancing for us to watch together.

You are getting a new molar this week and you weren’t feeling 100 percent yesterday.  When you woke from your nap you cried out but when I came into your room, you wanted a bit more lounging time so I sat in the big rocking lounger and we chatted. You had rosie cheeks.  You have a mouthful of teeth and a couple of molars already but there are more to come.  We had a lot of extra snuggles and cuddles and a more subdued chat with Auntie Raya.  One of your favourite things is a video chat with Auntie Raya.  It is guaranteed to bring on big smiles and lots of kisses to the screen.

Last week you peed on the potty.  Bubby was so excited that I told everyone and even made a Facebook post.  We sing “Openings” the new release by our friend Shoshanah Jedwab and “Pee Pee on the Potty” which may be a Bubby original but probably not.  Shoshana even mentioned us at her launch party on zoom. You peed on the potty again this week as well as once on the playroom floor. That’s okay -we have plenty of cloths, water and soap for cleaning it up.

You love your food – your Mommy loved good food and so does your Bubby.  Since Daddy went back to work, he has been making a big container of berries and grapes.  If you see the container, you want some.  It’s your favourite.  You love FRESH fruit and vegetables the most. We went apple picking with Auntie Raya, Uncle Ben and Oscar and you LOVE apples a lot.  If you have one – you eat it all up non stop!!  Probably sweet potatoes are your most favourite vegetable and this month you have had cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini, celery, red peppers, mushrooms, and spaghetti squash.  You like peanut butter toast a lot, oatmeal with blueberries, oatmeal pancakes, cottage cheese, plain yogurt, eggs ( egg salad, hard boiled, fried, scrambled with cheese).  You love muffins – even the almond ones I overcooked and you love the cornbread muffins from Aunt Paula and the banana blueberry ones from Gramma.  When we visited Auntie Raya for Rosh Hashana you had so many delicious foods that she made for you and you loved it all. 

Daddy and I are determined to teach you what we mean when we say NO but you are pretty strong willed so we have our work cut out for us.  We don’t want you climbing up the stairs on your own or going on to the road when we are walking even though that gravel is soooooooo tempting.  You are strong willed like your Mommy.  At the same time you have her sweet, loving and kind ways.  You have her quick and beautiful smile and your eyes light up and sparkle like hers did.  You are so clever and show us you have a mind of your own.  We will all teach you that you can do anything you set your mind to.  

Harper Rose Vered – I love you soooooooooooooooo much.

Joanna and Arnold, Allen Gardens, February 2020

Joanna and Arnold

We had the honour and pleasure of having Sandra Ruch officiate our wedding ceremony and could not have asked for a more delightful person. She was very professional and easy to communicate with leading up to the wedding. She offered a great deal of insight and flexibility with the ceremony, especially since we planned our wedding in a very short amount of time. Her energy radiated and filled the room during the ceremony, and we laughed plenty. We also received a compliment from our photographer that Sandra was great at finding the perfect spots to be in/out of photos, which is a skill I never expected! She surpassed all our expectations and we loved working with her. We would absolutely recommend Sandra for all your officiating needs!

Joanna & Arnold, February 2020

Alice and Melanie

Sandra Ruch was everything, and more we thought she would be. Our ceremony was personable and fun. We had an island theme and she dressed for the part. She had everyone’s attention and several people told us after the ceremony that they even cried, with how beautiful it was. We had a cross section of family and friends at our wedding and EVERY single one of them commented on Sandra’s officiating. Thank you Sandra! With much love….Alice & Melanie February 2020

My Tovah Project: Coping with Grief

I’m grieving. I judge my grieving. Is it enough? Is too much? Will I spin out and lose control? For the first few weeks after my precious daughter died of cancer, I could only tell people, “I am broken”. I felt disbelief, loss, confusion and I was just so, so, so sad. Just sad and lost. I have been trying to find my way out – who will I be? How will I be? What will help to heal my heart? Who do I need? What do I need? What can hold my attention?

I never had a long attention span but since she died, it is even shorter. What can I do to honour Tovah’s memory?I created a memory wall in my home. It is here that I stand each day recite the Mourners Kaddish (prayer).I planted 18 olive trees in Palestine in Tovah’s name. You can do that too https://zatoun.com/trees-for-life/

Tovah’s Memory Wall

Tovah and I had so much faith that she was not going to die. We believed that a miracle would come. She told me every day that she felt her soul was in her body and that she didn’t feel like she was dying. I believed her with all my heart. We prayed every day. We wrote out our gratitudes every day. I wrote sigils on her that symbolizes healing.

Sigil for Refuah Shlemah, a complete healing

I understood we would have a long recovery ahead and that her health would be precarious but I believed that she would live. This was not how it was supposed to be. Tovah lived only 4 months after her cancer diagnosis. I’ve lost my baby girl and I miss her so much.

Tovah had a generous heart. She loved helping people and we know this for sure from the stories her friends continue to share with us. Tovah gave money to causes and she would often come to me to help her with a friend in need.

Recently an old friend contacted me and explained that he doesn’t have the money to send his daughter to university. We met 15 years ago in Jericho and have remained good friends ever since.My first time in Jericho spring 2005.

Jericho spring 2005

His daughter, Alaa, has dreamed of becoming a doctor for as long as she can remember. She and I had a video chat last week and I immediately knew that I wanted to help her. I felt a deep internal call to do this – I know Tovah would get behind me.

Alaa’s graduation 2020

I am calling it my Tovah Project. I want to raise money to send Alaa to university. She graduated with a 94 % average. She’ s sweet and shy and smart!I set up a new bank account and I named it Tovah’s Project. I will send the money directly to the university in East Jerusalem. Alaa will live at home and commute. She lives in a refugee camp near Jericho. She needs $4000 USD immediately for the first 4 month semester.

I lived in Haifa from 2004-2006. The situation in Palestine was very bad then and has only gotten worse over the past 14 years. So much worse and the opportunities for young people are very, very limited. The Occupation crushes the hopes and dreams of Palestinian youth.

I remember the day Tovah and I talked about the situation one day in late 2004 and I explained what I was learning about the situation of the Occupation and the brutal actions of the Israeli government to the Palestinian people. I told her about the organizations I was now working with. A few months later, I told both Raya and Tovah that I was called to stay and that I wanted to continue working to end the Occupation and to help the Palestinian people. I remember how supportive they both were..

I hope you will help me to help Alaa. She will make a difference and so can you. No donation is too small. $5, $10, $100. A share is as good as a donation so please repost the link on your social media. GoFundMe Help to Send Alaa to Al Quds University