May 2010


Jonathan celebrated his birthday (Saturday, May 1) by attending the square dancing class dance.  Marc and Benjamin joined him, but Jackie had to schedule TLC Sharim for the same day and so she was at the temple.  TLC Sharim happened to fall on Lag B’Omer, a minor holiday, which is usually celebrated with bonfires.  So Jackie brought a "bonfire" to the temple to celebrate Lag B’Omer.  She brought a metal basin, about 3 feet in diameter and a foot deep to contain the bonfire and rolled newspaper into "logs."  She used newspaper logs instead of real wood because she only planned to have the "bonfire” during Havdallah, not during all of TLC Sharim and Havdallah is only about 10 minutes, so she didn't want the bonfire to last too long.  She got her wish in spades, when the "bonfire" flared up nicely and looked great – but died by the end of the first song.  Next year, she’ll bring some twigs too, or maybe more newspaper logs that she'll use to feed the fire.


On Sunday (5/2,) Benjamin had religious school and Valley Youth Chorus, but dinner at Jackie’s Mom’s was cancelled, which worked out for us, because then we were able to attend the Men's Club’s family game night at the Temple.  We played some new games and some old favorites, and generally had a good time.


The following Thursday (5/6,) Benjamin's Valley Youth Chorus group had a performance at a competition in Glendale.  The group did well and received an "excellent" rating.  Humorously, Catherine called that night (and got Jonathan, Jackie not being home from work yet) and asked if we had a solid dark tie she could borrow for her son's first communion that weekend.  Jonathan checked our copious supply of ties and reported that the answer was no.  When Jackie arrived home and was apprised of the question she called Catherine back and said that Jonathan's answer was incorrect, that we had a solid tie.  The reason that Jonathan didn't find it when he looked, was that Benjamin was wearing it at that very moment (at the Valley Youth Chorus performance.)  Jackie said she would try to have Marc drop it off at his way home to save Catherine the trip to pick up the tie.  Jackie and Jonathan had dinner and then Jonathan went off to a play that his English class was attending (in Glendale, as it turned out!).  Jackie tried to call Marc and got voicemail.  She tried several more times without success.  Finally, Marc called to say that the competition was over, but they were waiting for results.  He launched into a long description of how things had gotten but before he was done, the line went dead.  Jackie kicked herself for waiting to say anything about going to Catherine's house.  She tried to call him back with no success.  Half an hour later, he called again to say that they were leaving.  He started to talk about the event again, but this time Jackie interrupted him to ask him to drop off the tie.  Then she let him talk, and once again the phone cut out.  Jackie was really glad she had interrupted Marc!  Jonathan called around 10:30 to say the play had just ended.  Around 11:15 Jackie asked Marc, "How long do we wait before we start to worry?"  Just then the phone rang.  It was Jonathan saying the bus had hit traffic and had just gotten back to Granada and he would be home soon.  Jackie went to bed.


On Friday (5/7,) we had Bob’s tickets for all four of us at McCabe's guitar shop.  The boys have music lessons on Fridays from 4:45 to 6:15 and the concert was at 8pm, “stadium” seating.  So Marc packed a picnic lunch for us to eat once we got there.  But the boys were hungry, so we ate in the car on the drive down.  Lo and behold, we had no traffic on the drive down and by 7 we had arrived.  While waiting in line, Jackie and Jonathan worked on a new kind of puzzle that was a combination of Sudoku and Kokuro.  We got second row seats (not that it really matters at McCabe's!)  The Bob's gave a fine performance, full of energy and a lot of fun.


On Saturday (5/8,) Benjamin had track.  He decided to run the 3000m, 1500m, and 800m races.  Marc opted not to go because he needed the time to prepare for Mother's Day.  Benjamin and Jackie arrived 15 minutes before the start because Jackie thought the start was at 8:45 when it was actually 8:30.  So Benjamin had time for some stretches, but could not do a full warm-up before the 3000m race (the first race of the day.)  Between that and a late bedtime tonight before, Jackie did not have high expectations for Benjamin’s performance.  But he rose to the occasion and shaved 30 seconds off his personal best for the 3000m.  He then went on to get personal bests in the 1500m and 800m.  Jackie and Benjamin arrived home very pleased with Benjamin's performance.  Jackie requested that the boys (all three!) clean up the area under their chairs in the office.  Seeing the area under their desks all clean inspired Jackie to put away all the rest of the junk that had been accumulating on the floor the office as well as reorganizing some of the shelves.  What all the straightening was done, Jackie was able to give the office a good vacuuming for the first time in months.  This made her very happy!  Marc made fish for dinner and it was yummy.  After dinner we had a family game night for the first time in ages.  Choosing the games took some negotiating as each of us has different likes and dislikes.  We finally settled on “Palabra” and “Ticket to Ride”.  “Palabra” was interesting.  Jackie scored 205 points on a single hand and would have won except Jonathan canceled her score.  Well he would have canceled her score (by playing a joker) except that Benjamin mentioned that he also had a joker so Jonathan canceled Benjamin’s last score instead and Benjamin canceled Jackie’s score.  Then Jonathan would have won except that Marc put his last hand on the table for us all to see and Jackie pointed out a high-scoring play he had missed.  So in the end, Marc won but each of us felt like “I would have won, if only …"  Then we played "Ticket to Ride" and were amused when the final order turned out to be the very same as a final order in “Palabra.”


Sunday (5/9) started with the LA Hebrew High open house.  Benjamin is considering taking Hebrew as his language like Jonathan did.  Jonathan took Hebrew through a Union Hebrew High program that does not exist anymore.  The Union Hebrew high program was a five hour a week program that met our Temple.  The LA Hebrew High program is 3˝ hours during the week and 3˝ on Sunday, but does not meet anywhere close to us.  The two closest sites are each a 20 minute drive.  One is two 1˝ hour days a week (one day a week will interfere less with Benjamin's other activities) and the other is on Thursday, which would give him no opportunity do homework on Thursdays.  The next two closest sites are 30 to 35 minutes away, but meet on Tuesdays, a day in which Benjamin gets out early, and thus would give him more time for homework.  We went to the open house, heard the pitch, sat in on a class, and skedaddled out of there because we were having people over for lunch.    Blanche, Walter, Rhona and Reid joined us for lunch to celebrate Mother's Day and Jonathan's birthday.  This was the first time Jackie had seen Blanche since Blanche’s shingles had started and she looked pretty good, but Jackie could see that she had not yet fully recovered and can imagine what it been like when the shingles had been at its worst.  Marc made a scrumptious lunch (as always) and distributed "bruschetta" plants (tomato, basil and garlic) in a colorful pot to each of the mothers.  Jordan called from Israel on Skype during lunch and everyone got to talk to her.  Although Blanche’s face has come a long way, she is still experiencing a lot of nerve pain and after lunch she needed a heating pad to provide her with some relief.  Fortunately, the heating pad was effective and after a while we are all able to have dessert (angel food cake and chocolate covered strawberries) together.  As people left, Jackie brought them downstairs to the office to show them her Mother's Day present from the boys (the clean office.)


After everyone left, Jackie stripped the dining room table, and then set up for dinner.  For dinner we were joined by Jackie's Mom, Don, Sue, Michael, Samantha, Rhonda, Clive, and also Abby and Daniel.  Abby and Daniel joined us because their parents had theater tickets to see "The 39 Steps."  Rachel could not get a babysitter on Mother's Day, even in the evening.  So Jackie offered to have Abby and Daniel joined us for our Mother's Day/Jonathan's birthday celebration.  Knowing that Abby and Daniel would enjoy an evening with Jonathan and Benjamin far more than staying home alone, Kevin and Rachel accepted Jackie’s offer.  Kevin and Rachel dropped off Abby and Daniel around 4 and Jackie dragged them all down into the office to admire how much better it looks.  Dinner was tacos and lots of desert, as we had leftovers from lunch as well as new dinner desserts.  As each person left, once again Jackie dragged them downstairs to admire the office.  Once everyone had left, Jackie specifically pointed out to Abby and Daniel how much she loved her gift and how it would be even better if it been spontaneous (rather than requested.)  Hopefully her message sunk in and Rachel get a pleasant surprise one of these days.  Around 8 p.m. Jackie took Abby and Daniel to their house.  Abby started working on an ongoing project of hers, scanning old photographs, and Daniel got ready for bed.  About 8:35, Daniel amused Jackie by coming to her and saying.  "I think I should go to bed now because it's 8:35."  How many kids would say that?!


Monday night (5/10) was square dancing.  Abby came with us to check out what had got the engine and all excited.  For the first time in ages, all four of us went.   We don’t think that watching us dance made her the slightest bit interested in learning to square dance.  Tuesday (5/11) was the confirmation dinner.  They served cheese pizza, pasta, salad and dessert.  Jackie was unimpressed.  They also did a montage and had the kids bless the parents.


The following Saturday, we went to JPL’s open house.  It was a zoo with long lines to get into most of the exhibits and activities.  The highlight for us was participating in a “Jeopardy” game.  Benjamin, Jonathan and Marc formed a team, and (of course) beat their opponents.  JPL gave them certificates congratulating them on their win. 


Sunday (5/16) started with the TAS congregational meeting, and continued on to the Dalet promotion.  Mark and Jackie were surprised to discover they were the only parents there with a kid in Dalet and a kid in confirmation.  Promotion only lasted an hour and then we dashed off to the Ahmanson where we had tickets to see "The 39 Steps."  The play was a hoot, full of references to Hitchcock films.  After the play, Marc and Jonathan went home and Jackie and Benjamin went home with Jackie's mom and Michael, because Benjamin had Valley Youth Chorus, which is only a few miles from Jackie's mom's house.  When Valley Youth Chorus was over Marc and Jonathan picked Benjamin up and we all had dinner with Jackie's mom and brother et. al. as usual.