Zev Family Newsletter: Sept., Oct. and Nov. 2001

Well, this newsletter is so long, that I included a synopsis at the beginning. I do these newsletters to record my life, and, this time, I had a lot that I wanted to record. My memory is so lousy, that if I don’t write it down, I don’t remember it, and I want to be able to remember it. Since not everyone wants to read ALL of the details that I want to record, I included the synopsis. However, if you decide to just read the synopsis and skip the details, I recommend you read the kid stories at the end. They are good for a chuckle!

Happy Holidays!

  • Marc gets consulting work and Jackie changes her status to full-time

  • Jonathan is in 3rd grade, Benjamin is in pre-K and both have excellent teachers
  • Jonathan the bookworm
  • Jonathan knows more science than his Science teacher

  • Both boys play soccer
  • Jonathan scores a goal
  • Benjamin’s team is highly entertaining
  • Jackie makes the banner for Benjamin’s soccer team and it wins a first place ribbon
  • Jonathan’s team finishes in first place

  • Jackie’s fibroid was unchanged by the UAE procedure
  • Jackie’s fibroid problems are ended by surgery
  • Benjamin story
  • Marc’s foot problem
  • We lose two pets in one month when one of the hamsters and our bunny both die

  • Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur
  • Halloween
  • Thanksgiving

    Fun Stuff
  • Horseback riding and the coyote
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
  • Bicycle riding

  • Benjamin and the cookie
  • Benjamin and the 4 breakfasts
  • Jonathan knows what deliberately means
  • Benjamin and the Chanuka song
  • Benjamin and the slug


    As we mentioned in the last newsletter, Marc was laid off last August. Since he is the cook in our house, Jackie encouraged him to try to find consulting work rather than another full time job. He was successful in doing this, and Jackie was successful at convincing her office that she should work full-time instead of part-time. So, now Marc picks up the boys, gives them a snack, shepherds Jonathan through his homework, and makes dinner. Jackie gets home around 5:30, cleans up after dinner, and puts the boys to bed. The extra hours at work have reduced Jackie’s stress level by making it much easier to manage her project. She’s pretty happy that Marc was laid off!


    This year, Jonathan is in third grade at Balboa Magnet, and Benjamin is in pre-K at our Temple. We are thrilled with both of their teachers. Jonathan’s teacher does quite a few activities that no other teacher in the school does. She takes the kids on monthly field trips to the Jewish Home for the Aging. She does a space station unit, where the kids build model space stations in teams and present them to the parents. She had the kids sew a quilt by hand for firefighters in New York. Benjamin’s teacher is the same teacher that Jonathan had when he was in pre-K. He has been doing a lot of painting in class, which he loves.

    We started having Jonathan take the bus home. Originally, we did this so that Jackie could avoid the 20-minute pickup line at Balboa. Then the pickup person switched from Jackie to Marc, and it made sense to continue the bus, because the bus drops Jonathan off at our local elementary school, about a mile from the house. Jonathan enjoys taking the bus, and often uses the time to read.

    Speaking of reading, have we mentioned what a bookworm Jonathan is? He loves to read, and we often have to take books away from him so that he will do things he is supposed to do (like eat! or get dressed!) He is supposed to read at least 500 pages a month for school. Last month he read over 2000 pages, and the hard part was getting him to write down everything he read. His favorite thing to read is Harry Potter, of course, and Jackie finally hid all of his Harry Potter books, to get him to read something else. He is very much like Jackie was when she was young, and she often thinks, “This is what it must have been like for my mother to raise me.” She finds this a little disconcerting!

    Balboa offers after school classes on specific topics and this fall, Jonathan took a Chess class and a “Mad Science” class. He enjoys chess and performs well against 3rd graders, although parents are an entirely different matter. The news about the Nobel Prize award to the 3 scientists who created Bose-Einstein condensation was announced while Jonathan was taking his Mad Scientist class. Of course, Marc discussed how the Bose-Einstein condensation was a fourth state of matter with Jonathan, who then mentioned that there were four states of matter to his Mad Science class. The teacher told him that he was wrong, that there are only three states of matter. Jonathan insisted that he was right; that his father had said there was four, so his classmates told him that his father was wrong! We sent a clipping on the Nobel Prize into the teacher, but unfortunately, another teacher taught the remainder of the class. The replacement teacher did not seem at all surprised to hear that the other teacher had incorrectly told a student he was wrong about how many states of matter there are!

    Benjamin also took special classes at the Temple in Art and Cooking. Some of the creations he brings home from these classes are quite unique!


    This fall, both Jonathan and Benjamin played soccer. This is Jonathan’s 4th year of soccer, and Benjamin’s 1st. This year, Jonathan was on an excellent team and had an excellent coach. His team was undefeated throughout the season. It was a pleasure to watch some of the better boys handle the ball. The depth of the team was evidenced by the fact that, in many of the games, four or five different team members (of 9 total) would score goals. Jonathan is not one of the stronger players and rarely scores, but he enjoys playing very much. He did have one amazing goal this year, which went down as a header into the net. Jonathan was playing forward, and was near the goal when the ball hit Jonathan hard in the stomach. This hurt him a lot, and Jonathan bent over in pain. Before he could recover, the ball was kicked again and, this time, it hit Jonathan in the head, bounced off, and went into the net. Even though someone else kicked the ball, it touched Jonathan last, so the goal was credited to him. Very serendipitous!

    Benjamin’s team was also pretty good and had a GREAT coach. We were lucky this year, because enough kids signed up to split Benjamin’s division (the 4 & 5 year old boys) into a 4-year-old boys division and a 5-year-old boys division. Consequently, everyone on Benjamin’s team, and on all the teams they played against, were all first time players. Watching 4-year-old soccer is very entertaining. It reminds us of the Keystone Kops. The kids frequently kick the ball the wrong way, even into the wrong goal. They spend an inordinate amount of time falling down. You have to constantly remind any kid who is not running after the ball that he is still playing soccer. Jackie once asked Marc (who coached Benjamin’s team) if a particular kid (who would run after the ball very enthusiastically) had ever actually kicked the ball. “Not on purpose!” Marc replied.

    Benjamin’s team was handicapped early on, when one of the boys broke his leg, and was out for the rest of the season. Benjamin’s team had 8 members, so normally two players sit out each quarter – no one plays the entire game. Losing a player meant that four of the players had to play the entire game, (all the players, if someone else missed a game) and at this age, they need a break! However, as Benjamin will tell you, if you play your best, you win, and thus they won every game (although they didn’t always score more goals than the opponents.)

    This year, Jackie made the banner for Benjamin’s team, with the help of another mom on the team. She had a pretty specific idea of how she wanted it to look, and stuck to that idea, even when it proved to involve more effort that she had expected, or had planned to put in. But in the end all the hard work paid off, and the banner took first place for most colorful.

    One of things we like about our AYSO soccer league is that at the lower age levels, the competition is very toned down. At Benjamin’s level, they don’t even keep score (officially, anyway, the parents certainly know who scored more goals!) At the 6 & 7-year-old level, they keep score, but not standings (cumulative win/loss records). Only at Jonathan’s level, (the 8 & 9 year olds) do they start to keep standings. However, liking the lower competitiveness in the lower age levels didn’t stop us parents from spending a lot of time between games figuring out how the standings would change if this team won and that team lost! Jonathan, on the other hand, didn’t seem to care. In the end, Jonathan’s team finished first in his division, as did his cousin Mitchell. All in all, this was a great soccer season.


    In the last newsletter, Jackie reported that the Uterine Artery Embolism procedure to shrink her fibroid had been less difficult than expected, however, Jackie believed that it had not been successful at shrinking the fibroid. In September, Jackie had an MRI, which confirmed this. The fibroid had not changed in size at all. Neither had the symptoms that led her to try to something about it in the first place. It was looking like a Jackie had run out of options and was going to need a hysterectomy sooner or later. Given that a surgery was inevitable, there were a couple of advantages to having going ahead with it sooner. Marc was working at home and could take care of both Jackie and the boys, including pickup and drop-off. Jackie’s project at work was at a lull, and she could take medical leave without adversely affecting the project. In addition, she expected the next lull to be about a year away. The decision was difficult, because there was still a small possibility that the fibroid could shrink or her symptoms could improve, but in the end, Jackie decided that the probability was not high enough to wait. This decision was reinforced when she got a second period a mere two weeks after the previous one! So, in mid-October, Jackie “went under the knife.”

    Like each of the previous procedures, Jackie bounced back quickly. She was up and walking around the next day, went home after two nights, and in general, felt very good. Feeling good did have some negative repercussions, because during each of the weekends after she came home, she overdid it, and had to spend the next day in bed resting. She went back to work 3 ˝ weeks after the surgery without any problems. In fact, at work she walks around less than she does at home. She is thrilled at her new flat tummy (remember that her uterus was as big as if she was 4 months pregnant) and doesn’t mind the weight drop either. Best of all, they were able to leave her ovaries, so she will not go into early menopause and does not have to take hormones.

    We also got a great “Benjamin story” out of it. Each year the preschool board (which Jackie is on) makes dinner for the preschool teachers to show our appreciation. Jackie, of course, asked Marc to make a desert for the preschool, and he made a cheesecake. The next day, Benjamin’s teacher told Benjamin that she enjoyed the cheesecake very much, and asked whether his mommy made or his daddy made it. Benjamin replied, “My daddy made it. My mommy can’t bake. She doesn’t have a uterus anymore.”

    Marc had a strange experience. He got something on the bottom of his foot, which looked like an insect bite, and itched like crazy. It grew and grew, and became very painful, to the point where he could not walk on it. His doctor was mystified. So were two other doctors. After a couple of trips to the doctor it grew to the point where it could be lanced and drained (which was not true on the initial visits.) It seemed to get better, but then a new spot started itching, and it looked like it was starting all over again. This time Marc saw a podiatrist, and he diagnosed it as a fungal infection. The medicine he prescribed did the trick, and it hasn’t come back.

    In November, we also lost both one of our hamsters and our bunny. The hamster died from an accident. The rabbit had been sick for a while, but the veterinarian couldn’t find anything wrong with her. Ironically, Jackie and Marc had been discussing what criteria to use to determine whether or not to have her put down, when she saved us the trouble of making the decision. Now we are down to one hamster. The boys are interested in getting a new pet, but Jackie laid down the law that any child that gets a new pet has to take care of it himself. This dramatically reduced their interest!


    Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur were very nice this year. We’ve been going to family services, because we enjoy religion more when we share it with our kids. Several families that we know eschew family services, because they are very loud and cacophonous. However, this year we discovered that if you arrive about 15 minutes early, you can get a seat in the front row, and, in the front row, family services are quite pleasant.

    Halloween was cheap this year, as both boys elected to wear the same costumes that they wore last year. This means that Jonathan was Harry Potter, and Benjamin was a “tiger cat.” Jonathan’s school did a program where they asked all the kids to donate half their candy to disadvantaged families. Both Jonathan and Benjamin participated. Jackie and Marc loved it, because it reduced the amount of candy in the house to a reasonable level.

    Thanksgiving was a whirlwind of family and friends. We started by visiting 2 brand new cousins (each about 3 months old) and their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins who had gathered for Thanksgiving dinner only a mile from our house. But we did not stay for dinner. For dinner we moved on to Jackie’s parent’s house. Jackie’s mom was nothing short of AMAZING as she hosted 44 people at her house and made it seem as it were no more trouble than hosting a dozen. Friday night we had dinner with neighbors, and Saturday we had another traditional Thanksgiving feast with friends. Fortunately we have a high tolerance for turkey, because on Sunday night, we had leftovers at Jackie’s mom’s house! But we’re not complaining; it was a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.

    Fun Stuff

    Jackie has a friend who has two horses, and they have been riding together. One day when they were riding, they spotted a coyote on the path ahead of them. They were very excited to see a coyote, and to their surprise it did not immediately vanish off into the hillside, but traveled on the path that they were on, staying ahead of them, but within sight. After what seemed like a long time, the coyote finally left the path and disappeared. Jackie and her friend believe that the coyote was a female with pups in the area, and was actually attempting to lead the riders away from the pups. It was a very neat experience.

    Of course Jonathan, our Harry Potter fan-atic son, saw Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone the weekend that it opened. He loved it, although he was disappointed at all the things they left out (as if 2 ˝ hours wasn’t enough!) Both Marc and Jackie saw it too, and enjoyed it very much. We left Benjamin at home, as he would not have been able to manage the frightening scenes and ominous music.

    Now that Jonathan is riding a bicycle, we took the bikes over to Balboa Park and rode around the park (~4-5 miles.) We have a tandem add-on for an adult bicycle, which is designed for young children, and we put Benjamin on the tandem. He pedaled for the first mile or so, and then he got tired, and just sat after that. Jonathan made it the whole way without any problems at all. Jackie was pleased as punch. She would like to do family bike outings regularly.

    Jonathan and Benjamin Stories

    A friend of Jackie’s was visiting, and he and Jackie were cleaning up the kitchen. Benjamin was nearby. Marc had made cookies the day before, and Jackie said, “David, would you like a cookie?” “I would always like a cookie,” David replied. He went to the cookie jar, took a cookie for himself, and said, “Would you like one too?” “Oh, twist my arm,” Jackie replied. Then Benjamin walked up. “What did you say, Mommy?” he asked. “Twist my arm,” replied Jackie, thinking that he didn’t understand the phrase. “No,” said Benjamin, “What did you say first?” Jackie paused to think. “Would you like a cookie?” “YES!” Benjamin promptly replied. For that bit of trickery, he got his cookie!

    One morning, Benjamin ate four breakfasts. First he had Lucky Charms, then he had cornflakes, then he had a Go-Gurt, then he had another Go-Gurt. It took him 40 minutes to eat the first two breakfasts, and this made him late to pre-school. Marc was telling Jackie and Jonathan about this and said that it took Benjamin 40 minutes to eat his first two breakfasts because he was eating very deliberately. Jonathan said, “I know what deliberately means.” “What?” we responded. “S – L – O – W” he spelled. We thought that it was very sweet of him to spell it, so that Benjamin’s feelings were not hurt!

    Benjamin sang the song “Oh Chanuka” for Marc. Then he asked Marc, “What’s a ‘sheda’?” Marc puzzled over this for a while, but when Benjamin sang the song again, he figured it out. One of the last lines of the song is, “One for each night, they shed a sweet light....”

    One night Jackie read the book “Some Smug Slug” to Benjamin before bedtime. The book tries to cram as many words starting with “S” as possible into a story about a slug slithering up a slope. Some animals try to warn the slug (a sparrow, a salamander, a spider, a stink bug, a skunk, you get the idea.) It turns out that the “slope” is really a frog, and in the end, the frog eats the slug. Jackie finished the book and Benjamin burst into tears. “But I liked the slug!” he wailed. “I didn’t want the frog to eat it!” He cried and cried; real tears pouring down his face. Jackie had to send him to Marc for comfort, because she didn’t want to hurt his feelings with her inability to hide her amusement! This is the same child that cries when the people in one of Jonathan’s computer games fall off a cliff and go splat! Benjamin is definitely our sensitive child. We think it’s sweet, and have not tried to change him one iota.

    Best Wishes to all
    Jackie, Marc, Jonathan and Benjamin