Zev Family Newsletter: January 2003

Our new computer

We started the New Year off right. We bought a new computer. Jackie was tired of having to reboot everyday and Marc was tired of the kids always asking to use his computer because none of their newer games will run on a 100 mHz machine. The humorous part is that even though we have 4 machines in the office now, we frequently find all the kids (up to 4 when guests are over) all crammed around one of them. Why the kids are happier watching someone else than playing themselves is a mystery we have yet to solve.

Jackie’s work

Jackie’s work is going well. One of benefits of Jackie’s particular project is that unlike many of XonTech’s other projects, the furthest she has had to travel is to Anaheim. However, a new project came up that needed the evaluation of a manager, and Jackie was nominated to evaluate it. She didn’t mind much, because, at this time, her own project could manage just fine without her, except that it meant traveling to Washington, D.C. Actually, she didn’t even mind doing that – SHE wasn’t the one who was going to have to be a single parent for 3 days. The flying went very smoothly – the biggest hitch was that her flight back was cancelled, but she had gotten to the airport early enough to snag a seat on an earlier flight. The evaluation went smoothly too. Jackie reported back that the project was doable, but the effort had been underestimated, and now it is well underway (with someone else managing it.)

Benjamin’s teeth

What’s a new year without the prospect of spending lots and lots of money? We’ve known for ages that Benjamin only has 19 baby teeth (most kids have 20.) He is missing the last molar on the right side. His dentist has taken several x-rays trying to figure out what is going on with the missing tooth, and decided that it was there; it just never erupted, because it is at an angle and has run into the tooth next to it. She thought it should be pulled; a task that would require oral surgery. She sent us to an orthodontist. The orthodontist took a “panoramic” x-ray, which showed all of Benjamin’s teeth (baby and adult.) When, he showed us the x-ray, Jackie noticed that the top adult teeth on either side of front teeth are blocking both of the front teeth from descending. The orthodontist confirmed that this was indeed the case, and unless something is done, the top front middle teeth won’t be able to descend properly into his mouth. As for the missing molar – the orthodontist confirmed that it hasn’t come in because it has run into the tooth next to it. He also pointed out that there is no adult tooth growing beneath it.

Benjamin has problems in abundance, but what are the solutions? The orthodontist said that for now we should just wait and see how things change over the next 6 months. He would discuss Benjamin’s case at a weekly group meeting he has.We did not find that encouraging. We want our children to have simple problems, not “interesting” ones that require “discussion at group meetings”. He also said that eventually the molar should come out. It could interfere with his 6-year molar coming in, and it could cause problems later on if it is left there. We are supposed to go back in 6 months for another panoramic x-ray.

As it turns out, at Benjamin’s last dentist appointment, it was discovered that an abscess had formed above his top front teeth. Benjamin has been battling gravity most of his life and, in two particular cases, gravity won solid victories. When he was 2 and then again when he was 4, Benjamin fell, and in each case he permanently damaged one of his front teeth. They are both dead now. For baby teeth, this is not such a big deal, except that it makes one prone to having abscesses form, which is what happened to Benjamin. The solution is simple – you simply pull the teeth and the abscess will heal up without any further treatment. Here’s the problem. Kids don’t normally loose their top front teeth until about age 7. Jonathan didn’t loose his until he was almost 8. If we pull the teeth now, it could be another 2 ½ years before Benjamin has top front teeth again. That’s assuming that they can descend properly, which, with Benjamin, is not a good assumption at all! We were concerned that not having front teeth for this long would adversely impact his speech, which is problematic even with his front teeth.

So we decided to have the dentist pull the dead baby teeth, and put fake teeth in their place. This whole procedure went very well, and Benjamin had a good time showing off his new fake teeth (ask him to see them – he likes to show them off!)

And we thought that Jonathan, who has had 3 cavities already, was going to be our problem mouth!


Our standard Poodle, Moody, has gotten much better. When we first got him, he was extremely fearful – he wouldn’t go up or down the stairs from one room to another, he wouldn’t come into the house if he were out or go out if he were in, he wouldn’t eat treats from our hands. Now he will do all of those things. So we decided it was time for a dog training class.After only two classes, he seems to catch on very quickly to what we want him to do.

The downside of having a dog is, of course, the vet bills. Fortunately, nothing serious, but it 3 months we’ve already had two vet trips. The first was for a bug that antibiotics cleared up, and the second was for an ear infection that cleared up with eardrops. Now we know to keep his ear hair trimmed short!

Our front door

January weather has been very strange. We’ve been getting Santa Ana winds, which normally come in October. As a result, it has been hot – over 90 on some days. The wind has been extreme too. One day it was so windy, that it broke down our front door! Our front door is a double door, with one side that has pins top and bottom to hold it in place. At the time the bottom pin was stuck in the open position and was not actually holding the door – a fact that was very important that night. About 20 minutes after going to bed, we heard a “BAM!!” We ran downstairs to find that the wind had bashed the door so hard that it pulled the screws in the hinges out of the frame, cracked the molding, and pushed in both doors about three inches. The only thing that kept the doors from swinging open was the deadbolt, which was now so jammed that neither the door not the deadbolt could be moved.

In retrospect it might have been better to leave the door jammed until the next day, but instead, we freed it, and then discovered that, because the hinges had pulled away from the wall, the doors were so far out of alignment that they couldn’t be closed. And the wind had not let up! We eventually tied the handles together and jammed a metal pole in place to brace the door against the wind.   We couldn’t open the front door (a fact that was problematic the next day when Jackie had a meeting at her house!), but at least it was sort of closed.

We think that the wind rattled the door so much that the top pin dropped down. Then the only thing holding the doors closed was the deadbolt. Without wind, this was good enough to hold the doors closed, but not that night! The good news is that we got someone to come out to fix and rehang the doors for almost nothing, and now the doors work, the pins work, and the locks work substantially better than before. In a sense, the wind did us a favor, although it was hard to see it at the time.

Marc’s volunteer work

Planned Parenthood has a program where they send speakers into high schools to talk about sexuality, relationships, birth control and related topics. Marc is one of their speakers. Consequently, he was given a ticket to their fundraiser on the 30th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, and allowed to purchase a ticket for Jackie at less than the normal price of $500/plate. So we dressed up for what was a truly delightful dinner at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. It was fun to hobnob with the rich and famous for an evening.

Jackie’s volunteer work

Jackie also does volunteer work. She is the treasurer for San Fernando Valley Branch of AAUW. In January, they put on an event called Brighter Horizons, a one-day conference for middle and high school age girls on careers in math, science and technology. Jackie did registration for the event. The event was scheduled for January 25th, which presented some challenges because there was a bare 9 school days between when LAUSD students returned from winter break and the event. It meant that on the Monday before the event (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – NOT a school day) we only had 13 registrations – we were hoping for 350 participants! But we need not have worried about the numbers. In the next three days, another 300 students signed up. It did mean that the assigning students to their chosen workshops, printing out the assignments, and most of the other preparation work necessary to make a smooth check-in of 330 students had to be done the night before the conference!

Saturday started far too smoothly. On-site registrations went very well – we had about 55. Then we discovered the reason things were going so well – we had 120 no-shows. Soon after, part of the cause of the high number of no-shows became clear. Sepulveda Middle School arrived late (half way through the first workshop) because no bus had shown up to pick up the 75 Sepulveda students. How they managed to scramble a bus at the last minute, we’ll never know, but they got there. Then the challenge really began. Of the 75 students, only 40 were pre-registered. We needed to assign 35 students to classes at top speed, so they wouldn’t miss more than the one workshop they had already missed. This was complicated by the fact that one of the workshop instructors, frustrated by a glitch in obtaining the equipment she had requested, had left, so we were down one speaker.

There were numerous other minor glitches (like not having enough seats in the auditorium for all of the students to sit to hear the keynote speaker!) but all-in-all things went very well indeed. We learned from the experience and we should be even better next year!


And what about Jonathan? Jonathan had a spell-a-thon at school. A spell-a-thon is a fundraiser for the school based on a spelling test. The kids ask for pledges where the amount will be based on the number of words they spell correctly on the test. The night before the test, we ran through the 25 words on his list and it was a disaster! He spelled less than ¼ of the words correctly the first time. We discussed ways to remember to spell each word. On the way to school, Jackie quizzed him again. Another disaster! He got less than half of them right. But on the test itself, he pulled off a miracle, getting 23 out of 25 correct. Kids! You don’t know whether to kiss them or kill them!

Hope life is treating you well!