Zev Family Newsletter: July & August 2000

The summary:
  1. Summer Camp for Jonathan (good) and Benjamin (bad)
  2. Our vacation to Sequoia (good) and the ant reception we returned to (bad)
  3. Marc volunteers to coach Jonathanís soccer team (good)
  4. Jackie volunteers to co-chair Tot Shabbat (good)
  5. Landscaping (good and bad - but mostly good)
  6. Jonathanís new school (good)
  7. Benjaminís preschool (good)
  8. Jonathan stories (good)
  9. Benjamin stories (good and bad)
  10. Marcís job (good and bad)
  11. Jackieís job (good and bad)

Note: The links are to recent pictures (one picture per person)

July was a typical summer month -- fireworks, birthday parties, theater, haircuts Ė Jackie has continued her trend of cutting her hair shorter and shorter. Sheís not sure she likes it, but everyone else seems to.

Jonathan went to summer camp at the JCC again this year. We gave him the option of going somewhere else, but he was adamant about wanting to go back. So we sent Benjamin to day care at the JCC too. It made for one stop drop off. Both kids went to the JCC three days a week. Jonathan had a blast.

Benjamin was another story. He had been happily attending pre-school at our Temple all last year, but he was not at all happy at the JCC. While, he had always separated happily at the Temple, at the JCC he was clingy and tearful. Not at first, but steadily getting worse and worse. In the car on the way there, he started asking, "Where are we going?" "To JCC camp." "I donít want to go to JCC camp!" he would say, "I want to go to preschool." This caused us much stress. We didnít have to send him to the JCC. Should we keep him there when he clearly didnít like it? But did he really not like it, or was it just separation anxiety, like the JCC staff said? They said that once Jackie left, Benjamin would turn into his normal, happy self, and would participate and seemed to enjoy himself. And what message would changing his day care send to Benjamin? Would it say that he had parents who cared about his happiness, or would it say that if things werenít going exactly they way he wanted, he should cry until he got what he wanted? (Something he does WAY too much as it is.) As we were waffling, and pondering our options, his objections peaked, and then lessened somewhat. To the end, if asked, he would tell you that he did not want to go to JCC camp, but by the end of July, he no longer cried when dropped off.

August began with a vacation to Sequoia with Jackieís parents, her brother and family, her Dadís sister and her cousin Rhonda. There were 8 adults and 4 kids, which was a really excellent adult to kid ratio. We saw lots of trees and two caves and climbed a big rock. It was a lot of fun. We finished with a small but sincere surprise birthday party for Jackieís 40th birthday. We packed a lot into four days and came home tired, but happy.

Returning from vacation is never easy, and this return was made particularly difficult by the hundreds of thousands of ants that greeted us when we returned. So we shipped off the kids to Marcís Mom to get them out from underfoot and spent three hours mopping up ants from the kitchen. What fun. NOT!

Marc was asked to coach Jonathanís soccer team, and with some trepidation, he agreed. AYSO provided some training on how to coach, a bag, a shirt, a list of players and their phone numbers and he was in business. He asked our cousin Rhonda to be his assistant coach, and she agreed. Weíre looking forward to soccer season.

Benjamin is more excited about soccer than Jonathan is. The night of the first practice, Jackie had made plans to for her and Benjamin to have dinner with her parents, partly because Benjamin was going to spend the night. They needed to leave halfway through the practice. Benjaminís response to Jackieís "Come on, Benjamin, letís go see Grandma!" was "I want to play soccer with the guuuuyyyysssss." (You have to get a good whiny sound in on "guys" to properly imagine his response.)

Not to be outdone, Jackie was asked to be on the board of Benjaminís pre-school, and she agreed. She is co-chairing the "Tot Shabbat" program. Tot Shabbat is our templeís once-a-month Sabbath service designed for pre-school age children. It consists of a half-hour service (the bare minimum of prayers with lots of singing), the typical oneg (challah, cookies, and grape juice), and an art project. It should be fun, and (hopefully) not TOO much work.

So here we are at the end of August, and is our 3-week landscaping project (started the first week in June) done? *Eye roll* It is close, however Ė All the major stuff is done, and weíre down to final details. The official punch list has 41 items, which isnít everything, particularly since the landscape architect hasnít checked the work yet.

We had a bit of luck near the end. Early on in the landscaping project, we found that our pool pump would get full of air and stop pumping water. We tried to blame it on the landscaper, but three independent pool men could not find a connection. We had continual problems for over a month, and could not nail down the cause. Then, a week ago, Jackie came out to help Marc get the pump restarted so that our regular pool man could clean the pool. Marc had Jackie turn on and off the pump while he dealt with pumping water through the filter to prime the pump. Jackie happened to notice that when she turned the pump off, water would suddenly bubble up in one spot in the dirt near the edge of the concrete. If you werenít looking at the right place right when you turned off the pump, you would miss it, because the water soaked right back into the ground. As it turned out, the landscapers had put a 6-inch crack into one of the pump pipes. It was pure luck (and a tremendous blessing) that Jackie happened to notice the water bubbling up before the end of the project (and the last payment!)

Jackie and Jonathan attended orientation at Jonathanís new school (Balboa Magnet.) We were pleased to hear that Balboa was ranked 3rd in the state in the latest test scores. Jonathan is excited about attending Balboa, and as it turns out, he knows a couple of the kids that are attending. We got lucky again in that one of the kids attending Balboa happens to live down the street from us, and we will be carpooling.

Benjamin will be going back to our templeís preschool. He will have the same teachers that Jonathan had when he was 3. We loved these teachers when Jonathan had them, and are pleased as punch that Benjamin has them too.

A little bit about the boys. Jonathan continues to be a delight. He loves to curl up on the "reading chair" with a good book. He plowed through the fourth Harry Potter book this summer in record time. He read some of it and we read some of it to him. He continues to be a stickler about following rules. For example, we told him that he had to alternate drinking milk and apple juice. He will keep track of what he had last, and tell us, "I canít have apple juice now, so can I have some milk, please?"

Benjamin continues to be (terribly) two, even though he is three. For example, Marc, Jackie, and Benjamin went out to lunch. Benjamin said he wanted pizza, so we went to a place that served pizza. When we went in, Benjamin insisted that the restaurant didnít have pizza. He did still want pizza, so Jackie took Benjamin outside to the patio seating, while Marc stayed behind to order. Benjamin continued to insist that a) they didnít serve pizza here and b) the chair that Jackie had put him in wasnít his chair. Finally, Jackie convinced him that "Daddy was going somewhere else to get pizza and bring it back." Marc brought the food out, and Benjamin would only take a few bites of the pizza. He did eat a substantial portion of whatever Jackie was eating (she and Marc split linguini and chicken Caesar entrees.)

Another way his stubbornness shows is in toilet training. Our efforts can be summed up in one sentence. You can lead a boy to the potty, but you canít make him pee. Once I did convince him to sit on the potty in exchange for candy if we went pee. It only took half an hour before he went, and this was first thing in the morning after he woke up with a dry diaper. We try not to stress about it.

When heís not throwing tantrums, Benjamin is quite a love. Heís very affectionate and loves to give hugs and kisses. He especially loves babies. He doesnít throw them up in the air like he does to his doll. He also likes to help Daddy cook in the kitchen. His speech is improving, both in clarity and in expressiveness.

The boys are a delight together. They love each other very much and donít fight at all, partly because when Benjamin wants something that Jonathan has, Jonathan usually lets Benjamin have it. (Weíre trying to discourage this.) Although he has his own bed, Benjamin prefers to sleep with (usually ON) Jonathan. Benjamin is quite restless until he falls asleep, so unless Benjamin is exhausted, we let Jonathan fall asleep before we put Benjamin to bed. Once Jonathan is asleep, it takes morning to wake him up.

Marc just passed his one-year anniversary at Viva.com. He enjoys working there, but the commute is tough. Jackie is still employed, despite the failure of the National Missile Defense Flight Test in July. She is working on a software simulation of the NMD system, and if NMD gets cancelled due to the flight test failures, she assumes that her project will be cancelled as well. But nothingís been cancelled yet.

ĎTil next month,

Jackie, Marc, Jonathan and Benjamin