Zev News – Sept 2008


Schools started for Benjamin, and Jackie expected that it would not have much of an impact schedule-wise.  After all, Jonathan had been in school for weeks and Benjamin's cross-country practice had also been going on for weeks.  And for three days, she was right.  Then religious school started up.  Jackie's first inkling that she, at least, was overscheduled was on the first day of religious school.  On this day, all the Temple committee chairs sit at tables and try and recruit parents for their committees.  At Jackie's table, she had three signs for the three Temple committees she chairs.  And she realized that there were these were not all the committees she is on, these are just the committees she chairs.  Benjamin was busy Mondays and Wednesdays with track practice, Thursdays with religious school, and Fridays with piano lessons.  Jonathan was busy Mondays with square dancing lessons, Tuesdays with Hebrew High and religious school, Thursdays with Hebrew High, and Fridays with piano lessons.  Jackie had square dancing with Jonathan on Mondays and her quilting group on Wednesdays.  And every Thursday in September she had either a Sisterhood meeting, a Religious School Board meeting or a back-to-school night.  Tuesdays were filled with other events – religious school orientation, a focus group at the Temple, a committee meeting.  After that first week, Jackie had something every night of the week, every week of the month.   Dinners as a family started to suffer.  At the beginning of the month, on Mondays and Wednesdays, we had to eat at five so that Benjamin could be a cross-country practice at six, so Jackie left work early these days.  Then, as the days got shorter cross-country practice was moved to 5:30-7 so Benjamin started eating after practice.  But Jonathan needed to leave for square dancing class at seven, so Monday dinners as a family disappeared.  Tuesday, Jonathan has dinner at religious school, so no family dinner there.  Wednesday we ate together until the cross-country practice time changed.  Coincidentally, the same week that the cross-country practice time changed, things got hectic at work, and on Tuesday and Wednesday, Jackie went directly from work to her board or committee meeting and skipped dinner entirely.  On Thursday of that week, work sent her to Manhattan Beach for program manager training.  She went directly from the training to back-to-school night, and missed dinner once again. 


At the beginning of the second week in school, Benjamin had an –um– “disagreement” with his math teacher.  She passed out a worksheet on fractions that the kids worked on and went over in class.  It had sets of shapes, and within each set some of the shapes were shaded.  The kids were supposed to write down the fraction of the shapes that were shaded.  They were supposed to generate the fraction by counting the shaded objects amd putting this number on the top of the fraction and counting the total number of objects and putting this number on the bottom of the fraction.  Easy, right?  One of the sets was of three doughnuts, none of which were shaded.  Most of the kids in the class (including Benjamin) put 0/3 as the answer.  The teacher said no - the answer is 3/3.  Most of the kids in the class responded to this with, "oh, I got it wrong." Not Benjamin.  Benjamin refused to accept that the teacher was right and argued with her without success.  His inability to make her see reason left him in tears.  Marc spoke to her very briefly after school and got a copy of the worksheet.  The worksheet came from the Internet site www.math-drills.com.  So Jackie went to this website and found the worksheet.  She was pleased to note that there was an answer sheet, which said that the answer to the problem was 0/3.  She printed it and gave it to Benjamin to show to his teacher.  When Benjamin showed it to his teacher he found that she knew about the answer sheet, but she thought the answer to this problem was wrong on the answer sheet.  At this point Benjamin asked her a very good question.  He asked her what the answer would be if all three doughnuts were shaded.  Her response was that she would have to think about that.  But the next day she told him (in class) that she had decided that he was right and she gave him 4 (good behavior) tickets.  So we are happy that she came to the right conclusion, and were pleased with how she treated Benjamin once he decided that he was right, but we're a little concerned about the quality of the Benjamin's math teacher!


Benjamin ran two cross-country races in September.  The first was a 5K "all comers" race at Pierce College.  This was not part of the cross-country program, but it provided the kids with a good transition between practices and official meets.  Since it was open to anyone, Jackie ran too.  Both Jackie and Benjamin did as expected.  Benjamin ran in just under 32 minutes and Jackie and just under 36 minutes.  The next week, at his first meet, Benjamin ran a 3K and did it in under 15 minutes – and this included a tumble which scraped his knee and elbow.  But he got up and kept going.  We were proud of him for that!


When Jackie was young, she enjoyed square dancing.  So she suggested learning to square dance to her kids, who dearly embraced the idea.  However, despite the availability of classes every day of the week except Friday and Saturday, there was no night when both kids were free.  So Jackie decided to start Jonathan in the fall and Benjamin once cross-country ended.  Jonathan has taken to square dancing like a duck to water and enjoys it very much.  The first week, he was the youngest dancer there by 33 years (he is 33 years younger than Jackie) but the second week another couple brought their grandson who is a year younger than Jonathan.


Last year, we included the boys in our season theater tickets and the frequent shows have interested Benjamin in doing some acting himself.  Not long after he expressed this interest, we learned of someone who is trying to establish a community theater in Chatsworth.  They are going to put on "Scrooge the musical" in December, but they haven't had their first meeting yet.  We will see how it turns out.  It won't cost us anything to participate (although we don't know who is providing costumes yet) so that is a big plus.


Jackie’s singing group at the Temple continues to meet monthly.  We were a little concerned about whether our song leader would make the September session, as his wife was due any day on the meeting date, but her baby loves us and waited until the following Friday to be born.


At the end of September, we all went to Yosemite with Sharon (Jackie’s mom), Don & Sue (her brother and sister-in-law) and Michael and Samantha (their kids.)  We drove up there on the last Friday in September right after school let out.  In fact, we left the house, picked up Jonathan from school, and drove up there.  We came within a hair's breath of forgetting the bikes.  We would have forgotten them, except that as we pulled out of the driveway Sharon (who rode up with us) said "what about the bikes?”  So we stopped, put the bikes on the van, and went to get Jonathan.  We stopped at the cheesecake factory for dinner and we arrived in Yosemite about 9 p.m..  We had cabins 10A and 10B.  But there was someone in 10A.  Turns out he was supposed to be in 1A, but, apparently, he can't count and his key opened 10A.  So Jonathan and Benjamin spent the night with us in 10B.  Jackie's mom had 819 which is the best cabin in all of Yosemite (according to the LA Times.) As soon as we figured out the sleeping arrangements for that night we went to bed.


We got up, had breakfast, and decided to go to Yosemite Falls.  So we hopped on the shuttle and on the way, we saw a deer.  When we got there we found it was pretty dry.  We called it, "Yosemite fell."  We climbed on rocks to the top and the bottom of the falls.  We found a pool with a whole bunch of butterflies clinging to the rock above the pool.  There is no water coming over Yosemite falls proper but there was water coming over the cliff to the right the side of the falls.  Everyone touched the water shimmering down the side of the rock.  Benjamin climbed the highest.  Then we went back to Curry Village and had lunch.  The weather was very variable.  We kept taking off and putting on our sweatshirts.  After lunch, we went back to Sharon's cabin and saw a buck with three points on one side and two points on the other lying on the ground chewing its cud about 10 feet from her cabin.  Then we took a bike ride to Mirror Lake and discovered that it is now considered a seasonal pond.  We walked and found no water and rode to Happy Isles where we had juice bars and fudge bars.  We rode back to Sharon's cabin and played Set.  After we played Set, we figured out the maximum number of Set cards that can be showing without a set showing.  We had dinner at Curry Village’s all-you-can-eat buffet.  We came back and played Apples to Apples until the rest of the Schuster’s showed up a little after nine.  Sue and Don were given cabin 6A but it smelled like skunk, so they were moved to 8B.  Michael stayed with Jonathan and Benjamin in 10A (a guy moved out) and Samantha stayed with Sharon.


The next day, the kids were going to ride bikes to Yosemite Falls, but Samantha took a tumble not 30 feet from the cabin and scraped your knee pretty badly.  So just the boys went.  They saw two deer, a mom and baby.  They climbed on rocks.  Jonathan got stuck and needed help getting unstuck.  They rode back.  Marc, Jackie, Sharon and Don and stayed to care for Samantha's knee and then went to Bridalveil Falls.  Samantha stayed behind and rested.  We arrived back just a few minutes before the boys and then we all went to lunch at the Grill in Yosemite Village.  After lunch, we did the Mist Trail.  Sharon, Sue and Marc only went to the bridge but all four kids and Jackie and Don went to the top of Vernal Falls.  Rescue workers carrying a stretcher and first aid passed us on the way up.  At the top Jonathan, Benjamin and Samantha took their shoes off and were walking in the water.  They have been doing this for quite a while when suddenly Samantha slipped and sat down on her tush and took out Benjamin in the process.  After a while we headed down.  When we got down the boys took showers and had problems turning the water on and off.  In the end, we gave up on their shower and they just used the one in Jackie and Marc's room. We went to the lodge cafeteria for dinner.  After dinner we took Michael's telescope out to a meadow and looked at stars (mostly NOT through the telescope.)  Someone else was lying in the grass pointing out constellations with a green super-powerful laser pointer.  Jonathan found that his laser pointer looks really cool when waived at bushes in the dark.  We went back to Sharon's cabin and made s'mores in her fireplace.


On Monday, Benjamin and Michael rode to the village while Jonathan and Samantha did homework.  Then everyone except Sharon and Marc biked to Happy Isles and then to the village.  We met Sharon and Marc there and had deli for lunch.  We discovered that Benjamin's front tire was losing air so we pumped it up and everyone except Jackie, Sue, Marc and Sharon biked to Yosemite Falls.  When the kids to where one leaves ones bike, they tried to patch Benjamin's tire and discovered the leak was in the stem. Michael had an extra tube which would fit any of the bikes – except Benjamin’s, of course!  Sue, Jackie and Sharon went to the Ansel Adams Gallery where Jackie bought some earings and Sharon bought earrings and a ring.  Marc went to Yosemite Lodge and downloaded Jonathan's homework.  After buying stuff, Jackie and Sue biked to the falls and Sharon took the tram there.  When Jackie, Sue and Sharon got to the bridge they found the kids and Don on the rocks so Sue and Jackie climbed up to where everyone else was. At one point, Benjamin was going to crawl through a hole in a rock and Sue told him not to.  It started to thunder in the distance and sprinkle so we all started down. The view before we started down was absolutely spectacular.  While we were going down, Benjamin, asked Jackie why he couldn't crawl through the hole and Jackie said he could have if he thought it was safe.  Benjamin was terribly disappointed that he hadn't done it, so Jackie promised him they could get up early and climb back up and do the hole in the morning.  We got down and Sharon got on the shuttle before it started to rain in earnest, but we all rode back in the rain.  Jonathan and Michael had mud all up their backs.  Benjamin and Jackie didn't ride fast enough to get mud on them.  We took showers and went to dinner at the Ahwanee hotel that night.  After dinner, Sue took the kids to the village store and the rest of us followed.  Don, Sue, Michael, Samantha and Sharon left the store slightly before us and when we got to the tram stop we discovered we had missed the tram.  Marc suggested we walk and everyone agreed, despite not having any flashlights. We walked and we walked and we walked and we missed the turn off.  It was so dark we could not see each other when we were 10 feet apart.  The path we were on was paved so it was easy to tell we strayed too far to one side, even though we couldn't see the path.  For awhile, we were following another couple who had a flashlight, but then Jackie stopped to let Marc and Jonathan catch up and we lost them.  We walked and walked some more and eventually saw lights.  We left the path and found ourselves in a tent campground.  So we asked where we were, and a very nice man with a headlamp said we are in lower Pines Campground and guided us back to the shortest path to Curry Village.  We found the tram and hopped on.  It was only one stop to Curry Village, but at this point we decided to stick with the tram.  When we got back to Sharon's cabin Jonathan played backgammon with Don and we started a color cube puzzle. 


Jackie and Benjamin got up at 8am and went to Yosemite Falls so that Benjamin could crawl through his hole.  They took the shuttle over, climbed up, took pictures of Benjamin climbing through the hole, and climbed back down.  Back at the shuttle stop, they just missed the tram.  So they walked down to stop 9 and caught the tram there.  We returned to the cabin, helped finish packing the car and we drove to Glacier Point.  We had lunch there and then drove home.  It was an absolutely marvelous weekend.