Zev Highlights of 2002

Jonathan’s Journeys

2002 started with soccer. My 2001 team the “White Hawks”, after finishing both the regular season and play-offs undefeated, went on to an inter-regional soccer tournament. My team played well, but not well enough to go to the next level of tournament. The team was sad but mom and dad were happy not to have to drive to Bakersfield for the next tournament.

For the first half of 2002, I was in third grade. My teacher was REALLY great. She really pushed us kids to do a lot and stretch ourselves. Aside from putting on a performance every month for the parents; our class also took monthly field trips to the Jewish Home for the Aging where we interacted with some of the residents. We did art projects with the seniors and ultimately we each wrote a book about our experience. Our class also made a quilt for the New York firefighters that lost so much on 9/11. Each student decorated a square of cloth and we sewed them together. We also did the quilting ourselves. The quilt created some community interest, the story made the newspaper, and the class got a field trip to the new Los Angeles fire fighters’ museum. It was really great to do something for the firefighters, and it was fun to make the quilt. One thing I got very good at was writing thank you notes. We went on a lot of field trips and after each one we had to write a good thank you note. Well, at least I know how to do it now.

My birthday was great. We went to LazerTag. Nineteen or Twenty kids came and everyone had a fantastic time.

I spent the first week of vacation at sleep away camp. I enjoyed it for the most part, despite some run-ins with some of the counselors. I objected to being forced to participate in certain activities (like basketball). I reasoned that I was at camp to have fun and I don’t like playing basketball so I shouldn’t have to participate. The counselors responded by forcing me to play and preventing other boys from playing who did want to play. I did NOT like that!

I really enjoyed our family vacation in July to Monterey, San Francisco, Oregon, Sacramento and Yosemite. All that driving gave me a lot of time to read books. In Oregon we slept in a trailer. It was big, but not as big or nice as Papa Al and Grammy Irene’s trailer. I really liked Yosemite. My favorite part was when we climbed to the top of the bottom of Yosemite Falls. This involved a lot of scrambling over rocks and was great fun.

After our vacation, I went to a bunch of camps – Science Camp, Camp Kaliedescope, Gan Alonim. I think I liked the science camp best.

In September, I started fourth grade at Balboa Elementary and Hebrew School at our Temple. I like them both. Each year, Balboa participates in “Reflections” – a statewide PTA art, music and language competition. This year, I entered a musical composition and won an Honorable Mention. I am still taking piano lessons, although we had to find a new piano teacher at the end of the year.

The 2002 soccer season started in September. I didn’t always like my coach – he was very intense and yelled a lot, especially at his own son. Our team the “Red Vipers” came in 3rd. We got a nice trophy but will not go to any tournaments this year.

Benjamin’s Broadcast

January to June, I was in Pre-K at our Temple. Around March, I started getting bored of the stuff we were doing in Pre-K. We did too much playing. I was ready for Kindergarten, but I had to wait.

I really wanted to take Piano lessons like Jonathan. Mommy and Daddy said I could if I would practice, so I started lessons in March. Now I have a new piano teacher and her name is Jackie, just like my Mommy’s!

I had a good time at my birthday party. So did everyone else, even the grownups. The party had a reptile guy and a bouncer. It was great! Daddy made a snake cake, and we went on a reptile egg hunt. Mommy took loads of pictures me holding lots of snakes and lizards.

I really enjoyed all the parts of our family vacation in July -- visiting my cousins in the Bay Area, seeing the caves in Shasta and Oregon, the real working gold mine in Columbia, and the Mist Trail in Yosemite. But my favorite part was the tour of the Jelly Belly Factory and the free samples they gave out (Daddy wished the gold mine would do the same thing!)

It seemed to take forever, but September finally came and Kindergarten started. I was very happy. I love school. I have the best teacher. My favorite day of the week is the day I get my homework. I am learning to read, and Mommy and Daddy are very proud of how well I am doing. I have made many friends. I also started Sunday school. I really like that too.

Like Jonathan, I also play soccer. Mommy says if I play my best, I am a winner, so I won every game.

For Halloween, Jonathan and I were Jedi Knights. We got lots of candy. For Thanksgiving, we drove down to Escondido to cousins Valerie and Weston’s house. We spent one night in Tustin with my parents’ friends and went to the Santa Ana Discovery Museum and Zoo.

Jackie’s Journal

The year, as always was busy and exciting. In March, Marc and I went to Lake Tahoe (sans kids) with a friend from my work. I enjoyed spending my days on the slopes. Marc enjoyed spending his days in the casinos. Marc broke even and I didn’t break anything. In Tahoe, Marc spent the money he would have spent skiing on the purchase of a very cool bronze frog.

April 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 my local branch of AAUW. I’ve been on the board of this branch for years and I handled registration for Brighter Horizons. The conference got rave reviews, so we’re doing another one in 2003.

At Passover, Marc orchestrated the telling of the story of the exodus from Egypt. This year, four kids could read, and Marc took full advantage of it. It was quite a story, filled with lots of props and role-playing. It will be a challenge to live up to it next year!

In April, we went to Family Camp. This is the third year we’ve gone to Family Camp, a weekend retreat at a camp in the mountains put on by our Temple. It is wonderful to get away from the city, to a place with lots of trees and bushes, to a place where you can see the stars. As usual, I sang myself 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 also, they loved the show and listened to the music every night for weeks after. Jonathan actually missed the second half, because it just happened that his class was performing a dance as a “warm-up” act for the Aman dance Troup at another theater at CSUN. So at intermission Jonathan and I walked across the campus to the theater where Jonathan’s class was performing. The class performance was great.

Work continues to be great. I’ve been working full-time for a year and a half now. In Sept we had a MAJOR deadline, which caused me to work a lot of overtime in Aug and Sept, but the hard work paid off, we delivered successfully and my hours returned to normal.

In October, we decided to add to the Zev family. So we adopted a 75-lb, 18-month old black standard poodle named Moody. We got Moody from a Rescue. He has many fears from having been abused, but he is very sweet and gentle and housebroken.

Marc’s Musings

The year started with me consulting. I had two clients and I was working a lot. Unfortunately, the two projects ended. The economy, being what it is, made it difficult to find new clients. The market is glutted with laid off workers. So, I retired and devoted more time to my more important career of Fatherhood.

As always I enjoyed putting together the kids’ birthday parties. It was fun taking plastic eggs, filling them with gummy frogs and stuff and hiding them in the backyard. The kids had a great time looking for and eating them. Jonathan’s party was easier on me. Jonathan had a LazerTag party. The prospect of a dark room with people “shooting” at him was too much for Benjamin, but all of the other guests had a great time. Even though the party was not at home I did make Jonathan a special cake. Afterward we had the family over for dinner.

In June, I went on one of Jonathan’s many field trips. This one was to the Challenger Learning Center at Cal State Dominguez Hills. The Challenger Learning Center is a simulator where the kids can take the roles of scientists on-board a Space Station. The experience had such a dramatic effect on me that I started pursuing how to get a Challenger Learning Center built closer to my kids’ schools. To make a long story very short: I have founded the Foundation for Innovative Learning www.fdnil.org. The Foundation is dedicated to developing programs to increase the problem solving abilities of children and adults. Part of our aim is to build a Challenger Learning Center. This has been my full time project since June. So much for retirement.

Of course, I did take time off for the family road trip in July. We weren’t quite sure that it would come off after I was rear-ended on the freeway three weeks before we planned to start. I was not hurt at all, but the 7-1/2 year old min-van could not hold up to being hit by two cars, and was totaled. Having to shop for a new car without any notice was frustrating, but we found one (the Mazda MPV) that we liked and the road trip went off without a hitch. We went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, San Francisco and the Exploritorium, the Chabot Science Center, Glendale Oregon to visit friends, the Turtle Bay Science Center in Redding, Sacramento, Angles Camp (home of the famous Calaveras County frog jumping competition), Columbia then to Yosemite to spend several days in Yosemite Valley with the Schuster clan.

Benjamin was very excited about starting Kindergarten. His class starts at 11:15, and he is often concerned that we will be late and he will miss out on learning something new. We have never been late. Two days a week Benjamin goes to the YMCA in the morning before school. On those days when Benjamin arrives, the children who are already present spontaneously break out in the chant “BEN – JA – MIN! BEN – JA – MIN! BEN – JA – MIN!” They don’t do this for anyone else. It’s nice to go where everyone knows your name.

Until soccer season ended, I spent my days helping with homework, shuttling boys around four days a week, reminding kids to practice piano, cooking, baking, speaking for Planned Parenthood and stealing minutes, here and there to work on the Foundation. Now, with soccer season over, I only have to shuttle Jonathan to Hebrew school once a week – at least until track season starts.

For the most part, we have all been very healthy this year with respect to colds and flus and stuff like that. However, I have had many opportunities to see doctors this year. I have been experiencing some discomfort from a peripheral neuropathy I have acquired. Neuropathy is a nerve disease. Having a neuropathy is like having the flu. You know you have it but you don’t really know which one you have.I have been tested and tested and tested – they even performed a nerve biopsy, which required surgery. All they can tell me is that I don’t have one of the few neuropathies they can diagnose. I have one of the thousand or so that they can’t. So, aside from an unnamed disease that causes numbness, random pains and twitching mostly in my legs, I am healthy

The Zev Family wishes you and yours a happy and healthy New Year and beyond.