The word for March was definitely "HECTIC!" For Jackie, a normal pay period is 60 hours (two 30-hour weeks.) Her March paychecks both had 90+ hours. In general, she considers her kids and family to be a higher priority than her work, but March contained two crucial deadlines, and the consequent hours. The reason for the long hours was particularly frustrating. Her software depends on other peopleís work, which was not available and/or working until the very last minute. Her teamís software WAS completed and tested to the extent of her teamís ability to do so.
On the other hand, her hard work paid off in a great raise! This was bittersweet, however, because it was accompanied by her boss leaving the company. Jackieís boss has really made a difference in her career at Xontech, by recognizing her potential, fighting for her when she needed it, setting a great example and being a mentor to her. She will miss his guidance. Fortunately, she has a good relationship with her new boss, so she has no plans to leave the company or even change positions within the company.
Marcís company launched its website (http://www.viva.com) in February as planned and after a week, Marcís workload settled down considerably. Good thing, too, because that was when Jackieís workload ramped up. If you check out the Viva website, be sure to catch the cartoon on the renter site (go to http://www.viva.com/Renter/RFrame.asp?temp=20332 and click on View Our Demos (the picture in the upper right hand corner).
The good news is: Marc received a promotion to Technical Project Manager for Viva Phase 2 in April.
The bad news is: All he gets is added responsibilities, no raise. Oh well, canít have everything. Still, weíre very pleased that in just a few months, Viva has recognized the quality of Marcís work.
After over a year of treating Marcís chronic ear pain with antibiotics, antihistamines, and a host of other remedies, Marcís ENT doctor gave up, and recommended putting a tube in the problematic ear. This was done (in March), but with little benefit. Weíre still assessing what to do next.
Jonathan has continued his enthusiasm for Taekwondo. He goes everyday (his choice) and has only missed a handful of times in the last four months. In April, he took and passed his first "belt test" with ease. Now he is a yellow belt. He told us that he wants to work his way up to black belt, and then go back to gymnastics (which he used to do when he was younger). Jonathan has also continued his lack of enthusiasm for his piano lessons. Actually, he likes the lessons just fine; itís the practicing that heís not crazy about (surprise, surprise). Although heís no prodigy, we do think he plays pretty well (not that we have much to compare him against).
In April, Jonathan (finally!) lost his first tooth. It had been loose for two full weeks, and he drove us nuts for a week by refusing to eat anything hard (particularly apples, normally his primary fruit/vegetable of choice). Fortunately for us, strawberries were in season. Jackie got fed up with the situation, tied a string to his tooth and, with a good yank, ended the loose tooth situation. When she yanked out the tooth, it went flying, and for a while we thought we had lost it. Jonathan was humored to have lost his tooth twice in an instant! We did find it again, and Jonathan was able to receive his first visit from the tooth fairy ("But I think a grownup really leaves the money," he said knowingly -- this from the boy who still believes that his Daddy can pull books out of his ear.) So Jonathan managed to lose his first tooth before he turned seven, although we think that if we had waited for it to fall out on its own, he would have turned seven first.
In March, Benjamin turned 3. We celebrated by going to Disneyland the day before and a big party the day after. At the party, we had necklace-making, bag decorating, a piñata, and a rainbow fish cake, specially made by Daddy (of course.) Benjamin has definitely left toddlerhood behind in every way but diapers. He loves to sing and dance and to tell long elaborate stories, usually involving characters such as "regular cat," "regular dog" and boyfriend cat." He is a whiz at jigsaw puzzles. He knows his phone number and he loves to write his name, but it will be a while before anyone will recognize his squiggles as making up the letters of his name.
April brought Passover, with Seders at both Jackieís folksí house and Marcís Dadís house. Since Benjamin was the youngest child at both Seders, and the youngest child is expected to ask the Four Questions, Jackie, Jonathan and Benjamin practiced saying the four Questions (in Hebrew) for weeks before Passover. Jackie knew that it was unlikely that Benjamin would actually say them when surrounded by dozens of family members. However, when push came to shove, Benjamin pleasantly surprised us by performing admirably, singing the words along with Jackie and Jonathan all the way to the end.
The last weekend in April, our whole family went to "Family Camp." This was a wonderful weekend, put on by our Temple at a camp in the Angeles Crest Mountains. We stayed in cabins with electricity, hot water and bunk beds (boy did the kids love those!) We had a great time. The theme of the weekend was "Who is a Hero?" and we were visited by several historical Jewish heroes Ė Moses, Queen Esther, Judah Maccabee, Golda Meier, and Sandy Koufax.
On Friday, we had dinner, Shabbat Services and an ice cream social. Saturday started with Isaiahís Perch, breakfast and services, followed by breaking into groups, each lead by one of our visiting heroes, to develop a play about that hero. Next was a picnic lunch. Some people picnicked at the camp, but we went with the group that hiked a short ways before settling down to eat. After eating Jonathan and Marc headed back to camp, while Jackie and Benjamin continued on. For a long time the path meandered downhill, and Benjamin had a great time. Then the path turned uphill, and Benjamin quickly pooped out. Jackie had brought the sling, but even with the sling, she found carrying a 32-lb. child (uphill) for over a mile very challenging. Benjamin thought nothing of it, and even fell asleep shortly after being picked up. It did take care of the problem of how to get Benjamin to take a nap!
After returning to camp, and leaving Benjamin sleeping in the nap room, Jackie, Marc and Jonathan went to try out the zip line. The zip line is a cable strung across a shallow canyon. You put on a harness, which attaches to a small trolley on the cable and then you "zip" from one end to the other and back. Itís a lot of fun. Then Marc and Jackie tried the climbing wall, and both made it to the top and rang the bell. Next, after a pit stop at the snack table that was available all day, we went to the trampoline, which has a harness with attached ropes to help you do high jumps and flips.
Next was dinner, with singing afterwards. Then we all went up to the amphitheater for a Havadala service (the closing service of the Sabbath) around the campfire followed by singing and símores. Jackie, who loves to sing and canít get enough of it, majorly sprained her voice. After the singing, it was bedtime for tired boys and board games for older ones.
Sunday was breakfast, presentation of the skits, a scavenger hunt, packing, and lunch, followed by the closing circle. We left the camp, tired and pleased with the weekend. We will definitely do it again next year if we can.
Did I mention what "Isaiahís Perch" was? Isaiahís Perch is a 42-ft high telephone pole. You are supposed to climb it and stand on the top of it. You do this roped, wearing a full harness, of course. There are three things that make this really challenging. First, itís truly amazing how much harder it is to do something when you are 42 feet in the air. Second, this is not like climbing a ladder where the rungs are maybe a foot apart. Each foothold when climbing the pole is a major ordeal, and the last step (onto the top of the pole) has to be done without holding onto anything. Third, when you get to the top, you find out that the pole sways noticeably. And did I mention that once you are standing on the top of the pole, you then are supposed to turn around and jump to a trapeze that looks like itís about a hundred feet away? Grabbing the trapeze actually turns out to be surprisingly easy. Holding on Ė well, thatís a different story! Both Jackie and Marc are very pleased to be able to say they made it to the top of Isaiahís Perch, and Marc was also able to hold onto the trapeze.
ĎTill next month
Jackie, Marc, Jonathan and Benjamin