Jackie loves to ski, but hasnít done any skiing since before the boys were born. So when Jackieís co-worker Kathleen invited her and Marc to join her, her husband Jake, her in-laws Ben and Anne, and her sister-in-law Kristy, for a ski weekend in Tahoe, Jackie jumped at the chance. It seemed like a perfect match, because both Jackie and Kathleenís husband are good skiers, and Marc and Kathleen seemed about on the same level, too.
We arranged for the boys to spend the weekend with Jackieís mom, although they each spent Thursday night at a friendís house and went to school with the friend the next day. Packing was annoying, because we had to pack one bag for each boy for Thursday night, another for the two of them for the weekend and one for our clothes and still another with our ski clothes and equipment. But, boy was it worth it!
We drove up to Tahoe Thursday morning, and the trip was easier than we expected. Conversations between Jackie and Kathleen about their skiing abilities left Marc concerned that he was going to be left behind, that Kathleenís skiing ability was more on a par with Jackieís than with his. So, on Friday, he decided not to ski, but to go gambling instead. Kathleenís mother-in-law, Anne, didnít ski either, but the rest of us headed to Heavenly. The slopes were a little icy, just enough to keep us off the slopes that werenít groomed, but not enough to spoil our fun. Jackie discovered that even though she hadnít skied in ten years, she still remembered how. We spent the morning on the Nevada side. In the afternoon we headed over to the California side, and Kathleenís fun was terminated early when she pulled a muscle in her leg, and had to get a lift off the slopes. The rest of us managed to finish the day without incident, and ended up back at the condo. Jake went off to pick up Kathleen, who (of course) had been dropped off at the base of the California side, instead of the Nevada side where we were staying. Despite having 4 cell phones between us, Jake and Kathleen didnít connect, and Kathleen took the shuttle back to the condo. This was pretty hard on her, having a pulled leg muscle and all. But a long hot shower did wonders for Kathleen, and soon we were going out to dinner.
On Saturday, Kathleen and her family were more interested in snowmobiling than skiing, so Jackie hit the slopes by herself, Marc went back to the casinos, and everyone else went snowmobiling. Jackie had a great day on the slopes, Marc won back most of the money he had lost the day before, but Anne dislocated her elbow snowmobiling. Whatís a vacation without a trip to the hospital, after all?On Sunday, Jackie decided that the old adage, ďDonít ski three days in a row when you havenít been skiing for over ten yearsĒ was worth following, so we packed up to come home. But first we stopped off at an art gallery and blew all the money that Marc hadnít spent not skiing on a little statue of a frog.
Everyone, even the grownups had a good time at Benjaminís birthday party this year. The party was nothing fancy, just the reptile guy and a bouncer, but it was great! Marc made a snake cake, and we did a reptile egg hunt. We took loads of pictures of both boys holding lots of snakes and lizards, and Marc and Jackie got in on the act too. For Jackie, it was reminiscent of her high school days volunteering at the LA Zoo.
For Passover, Marc orchestrated the telling of the story of the exodus from Egypt. This year, we had 4 kids that can read, and Marc took full advantage of it. It was quite a story, filled with lots of props and role-playing. Even the youngest child had a part. It will be a challenge to live up to it next year!
April was a busy, busy month for Jackie. The first week was filled with preparations for two events that both happened the first weekend. The first event was Tot Shabbat, our Templeís monthly Shabbat service for preschoolers. (Jackie is co-chair of the Tot Shabbat committee. )The second event was the ECEC Luncheon and Fashion Show, the biggest fundraiser of the year for Benjaminís preschool.
The second week was filled with preparations for Brighter Horizons, a one-day conference for middle and high school girls on careers in Math, Science and Technology. This conference was put on by the San Fernando Valley branch of AAUW, on whose board Jackie serves. Jackie handled registration for Brighter Horizons. Registration for Brighter Horizons was a white-knuckle affair, with less that 40% of the total registrations arriving by the deadline (a mere week before the conference. )Registration was not the only tense situation, as on the day of the event, we had to deal with a speaker who disappeared on us, a bus that didnít pick up students, 40 no shows and 50 walk-ins!But everything worked out in the end, and we had a respectable showing of over 200 students attending our dozen workshops.
The next week, Jackie dealt with the aftermath of Brighter Horizons and prepared for the next weekendís event:Family Camp. Family Camp is a weekend retreat for Families at a camp in the mountains put on by our Temple. Preparation involved the minor step of packing clothes and supplies for the weekend, and the major step of fixing Nap. Nap is Benjaminís blanket, and after 5 years, numerous patches, and two new bindings, the entire back had developed several sizable tears. Jackie (ignoring well meaning suggestions from family, that perhaps it was time for Benjamin to give up Nap altogether) had agreed to replace the backing. A long as she was replacing the backing, she volunteered to replace the batting as well. After getting Benjaminís approval (and letting him pick the new backing) Jackie set about removing both of the old bindings, all the patches, the old backing, and the old batting. Then, in a (probably futile) attempt to make the top of the blanket last a little longer, she ironed fusible interfacing to the inside of the top of the blanket. She then added a double layer of fresh batting, the new back and a new binding. It was a lot of work (especially because Jackie finished the binding by hand, because she likes how it looks better) but the look on Benjaminís face made it all worthwhile.
This is the third year weíve gone to Family Camp. It is wonderful to get away from the city, to a place where there are trees and bushes all around, to a place where you can see the stars, and this year was no exception. As usual, Jackie sang herself hoarse at the campfire Saturday night, despite the handicap of having no song leader and no songbooks!
The night we returned from Family Camp, we had tickets to see the Mikado at CSUN. We were very nervous about bringing the boys to an operetta after two nights of going to bed late and long hectic days. We did take the steps of playing the Mikado soundtrack for the boys (Act I on the way up to Family Camp and act II on the way down) and explaining the story. We were pleased to find that our fears were completely unfounded. Not only were our boys well behaved at the performance, but they loved the show and have listened to the music every night since. Jonathan actually missed the second half, because it just happened that his class was performing a dance as a ďwarm-upĒ act for the Aman dance Troup at another theater at CSUN. So at intermission Jackie and Jonathan walked from the theater where the Mikado was playing to the theater where Jonathanís class was performing. The class performance was great.
The next weekend, we celebrated Jonathanís Birthday with a LazerTag party. There was some uncertainty about attendance the week before the party because none of the girls wanted to be the only girl there. But it all worked out in the end, and 4 of 5 girls came and everyone had a great time.
In June Jonathanís class went on a bunch of field trips. Marc joined the class on the expedition to the Challenger Learning Center. At the center the children were each given a job. Some were communications officers, some were on the medical team, some were on the isolation team and Jonathan was a Navigation Officier. The kids were split into two groups. Half went to Mission Control and the others rocketed up to the Space Station. The kidsí mission was to find Halleyís Comet, launch a probe and get chemical samples from the cometís tail. Half way through the simulation the kids switched from space station to mission control and vice versa. The kids had a great time, as did Marc. Marc was so taken with it that he started looking into having a Challenger Learning Center built closer to home.
The school year ended with a graduation ceramony for Benjamin Ė On to Kindergarten. Benjamin has been looking forward to kindergarten since around April when he told Marc that Pre-K was boring because they played to much and didnít learn anything.
Jonathan spent the first week of vacation at sleep away camp. He enjoyed it for the most part. Although he did have some run ins with some of the counslers. Jonathan objected to being forced to participate in certain activities (like basketball). Jonathanís reasoning was that he was has camp to have fun and he didnít like playing basketball so he should not have to participate. The counslers responded by forcing Jonathan to play and preventing other boys from playing who did want to play. Power corupts. . .
Benjamin spent the first week of summer in a sort of mini-camp at the temple. He enjoyed the special activities. Marc took the time to try to get some people interested in his Challenger Learning Center project. On the way to one of the meetings Marc was rear-ended on the freeway. He was fine but the car was ultimately totaled. Two days after the accident was Marcís birthday. Marc spent the day with Benjamin at the California Science Center. They had a good time but the traffic took a lot out of Marc so he was not in the best mood when he arrived home. He was tired and hungery and was ready to go out to dinner. He was a bit annoyed when Jackie insisted on telling him about her day before they could leave. Then she had to go to the bathroom. Then a friend and her kids came over because they were in the neighborhood and invited herself to dinner. Then just as Marc thought they could leave the Friend had to go to the bathroom and her zipper got stuck. Marc sat sullenly on the reading chair as another set of people stopped by to return something they had borrowed. Marcís mood darkened. Then he was pleasently surprised by a phone call from his sister who he didnít expect to call because she and her family were on vacation in Florida. After the phone call he was in a better mood, but still very hungery. He asked when they could leave and realized that all the delays were part of his surprise party that Jackie and masterfully pulled off. After a little food Marc was all better and enjoyed all his friends. Even the ones who showed up late.
July started with a brief stay in the hospital by Marcís father and then a search to replace the van. Since we had plans for a two-week road trip at the end of the month we needed to get a car. Marc did most of the leg work and was soon ready to look into public transportation. Ultimately, we bought a green Mazda MPV. We found it to have most of the features of the Honday Odyssey but cost about 8 grand less.
Our roadtrip brought us to Santa Cruz, Monterey, Fremont, San Franscico, Fairfield (the Jelly Belly factory) & Shasta City California, Ashland & Glendale Oregan, then Redding, Sacramento, Angel Camp, Columbia & Yosemite Village California and then home. We stayed with our friend David in Fremont, Jackieís cousin Lisa and her family in San Franscico & our friends the Satterfields in Glendale. We spent four days in Yosemite with Jackieís parents and her brotherís family.
Before we left on vacation Jackie was having trouble finding enough work to fill her days. Upon returning from vacation Jackieís work requirements escalated to the point that she would routinely work 10 to 20 hour of overtime a week. Jackie did; however, find the time to celibrate her birthday, a couple of times. Once with Marcís family, including Marcís cousin Randy and his family on vacation from New York.
As August slowly moved to September and the new school year it became harder and harder to get Benjamin to go to camp. His camp was at the temple where he went to pre-school so that he would have some time to see friends before they were separated at different elementary schools. When Benjaminís friend Ethan stopped going to camp Benjamin was convinced that he had started kindergarten and he wanted to go also. Marc could not convince him that Ethan was not going to Kindergarten. Marc had to go to the calendar and count down the days until Kindergarten started in order to convince Benjamin to go to camp.
Meanwhile, Marc was making good progress in getting a Challenger Learning Center off the ground. Marc had brought together a group of bright motivated people to form the board of directors and board of Advisors for his non-profit organization. The decided to call it the Foundation for Innovative Learning. The goal is to build an interactive learning space that will present exhibits that focus on problem-solving, decision making and communication. One of the services that will be provided is the Challenger Learning Center. Marc put together a web site (www. fdnil. org). It needs a lot of work but at least some of the information is there. Marc has been meeting with community leaders to gain local support.
Labor day came, big deal. The important thing was that school started. The morning of Benjaminís first day in elementary school started with him opening his eyes and saying ďYes!Ē. Marc warned Benjamin that he should not be disappointed if he gets no homework on that first day. Benjamin was very happy to get homework. As soon as he got home he did it. He was ecstatic. Jonathan was also very happy, he came home with no homework. For fourth grade Jonathan has the same teacher his cousin Mitchell had. We are looking forward to fun year with both teachers.
Jackieís work is still steady and excessive, but at least they pay her for her overtime. Marc is working on the Foundation full time. He has found some sponsors for some exhibits and is searching for locations. When the articles of incorporation come back from the state and he can file for non-profit status he will be out beating the bushes for money. Although the progress seems very slow to Marc Ė we are told that he is actually doing very well considering the whole idea for this wasnít formed until late June.
The next milestone was Hebrew school for Jonathan and Sunday school for Benjamin. Again, Benjamin was very anxious to start. As the Sundays in September before Sunday school started came and went, Benjamin would become upset that it was Sunday and he was not at Sunday School. Every week we had to explain that he had to wait until after the High Holy Days. Then Hebrew School started for Jonathan on Thursday and Benjamin was mad that he could not go to ďThursdayĒ School. Finally, Sunday school started and Benjamin was very happy. Jonathan seems to enjoy Hebrew School. He really enjoys learning new things.
Hoping you are healthy and happy,
Jackie, Marc, Jonathan, and Benjamin