November's *fun* was that we had the house repiped. The fun started when the repiping crew showed up and we wouldn't let them start, because we hadn't agreed on a price. We had a signed contract, which included permit and inspection. After we signed the contract, the plumber's office manager called us and told us that the plumber's license to do his own inspections had expired, so we would have to pay additional money for the permit and inspection. We had not resolved this issue when the crew arrived. Since the contract specified that permit and inspection were included, and the plumber had presumably known what the state of his license was when he set the price; we did not see any reason to give him any extra money. Having a crew at our house which was not being allowed to start proved more convincing than any verbal arguments, and the plumber agreed to hold to the amount stated in the signed contract.
The repiping itself was uneventful, with the minor exception that we were supposed to have water each night, and the first night we did not. It was also annoying that we really couldn't be in the house during the day. They created so much dust that the fire alarms were going off on a regular basis. Not to mention the noise level. At least it only lasted three days. After the repiping (but not the plastering) was done, we inspected the work. What we saw made us cringe. The contract specified that there was to be a recirculating line that went to the kitchen and to the master bath. The kitchen recirculating line did not exist. The contract specified that there was to be insulation on all the hot water pipes. There was some insulation, but very little. The contract specified that the recirculating pump was supposed to be on a timer. There was not even a cord to plug it in, much less a timer. The pipes under the wet bar leaked. And the crew had done a woefully inadequate job of keeping dust and debris off of our things. This was especially a problem in the playroom, where every toy had a layer of dust on it, and there were many chunks of plaster in the open boxes and behind the shelves. They had also dripped solder on some of the things in the playroom.
The inspector came out and failed the work because of the lack of insulation under the house and where the pipes attach to the water heater. Then we complained about the other problems. The plumber told us that we were making a big deal out of minor issues, but he did send his crew back to put in the recirculating line to the kitchen and the insulation.
As long as we had walls and ceilings that looked like Swiss cheese, we called our favorite electrician and asked him to come out and do some work. If he punched a few more holes, it wouldn't matter -- they'd just get patched with the rest of the holes! He was reluctant to do any work in the ceiling, because of asbestos concerns. That got us concerned too. So we took a piece of the ceiling from the debris on the floor, and sent it out to be tested for asbestos. We got lucky -- no asbestos. However our electrician had recently received a head injury, and couldn't do the work we wanted done. He did hook up the recirculating pump, though.
Now, we had hot water within seconds (all the time, because we still didn't have our timer) and hot water pressure in the kitchen. In the kids' bathroom, we no longer had to let the hot water run until the rust is flushed out, and the leaks in the playroom ceiling were gone. On the other hand we had holes in the walls all over the house, and some on the outside too. But, eventually, these were patched. Ironically, it took longer to patch the holes than it did to make them in the first place! Now we just have to clean up all the dust and paint.
The whole thing was annoying, more than it needed to be, especially because with a little communication, the plumber could have prevented a lot of the annoyances. However, as annoying goes, we've experienced a lot worse, and best of all, it won't drag on forever. One thing that minimized the annoyance was that the payment schedule was 10% up front and 90% on completion, so we were in the driver's seat from very early on.
Enough of plumbing; on to good news.
Each class in Jonathan's school gives out 4 awards: citizenship, sportsmanship, most improved and academic excellence. At the first assembly of the year, Jonathan received the academic award for his class. We were incredibly proud of his achievement, and hope that this will be only the first of many.
Jonathan's school had a read-a-thon to raise money for the school. Normally, the kids get family and friends to pledge money for each page they read. Kindergartners are allowed to count pages read to them instead of pages that they read. But we estimated how many pages are read to Jonathan in even a single evening, and realized that even at a penny a page, we could be donating a lot of money to Beckford! It occurred to us that there are a few books that Jonathan can read, like "Hop on Pop". The words are simple enough, he's heard it so many times that he almost has it memorized, and he knows enough about sounding words out to be able to do that when he needs to. So we armed him with 5 books, and sent him off to read to his grandfather, Papa Al. Papa Al was delighted to participate in the read-a-thon, and suggested 10 cents a page as a reasonable amount. Close to 100 pages later, he realized his mistake! Fortunately for Papa Al, Jonathan was satisfied with a modification of the original amount. Subsequent Grandparents were savvy enough to pay him per book, not per page!
After a month without traveling, Marc had a three-day trip and a four-day trip in consecutive weeks. Jackie decided she was not quite as used to Marc's traveling as she had thought! There was a positive side effect of the trips in that the likelihood of Marc will have a business trip to Hawaii next year increased significantly. If he does, Jackie will accompany him (sans children) and we will make a vacation out of it.
Marc and Jackie attended a parenting class offered by Temple Ahavat Shalom. The class was the first class of a series of four covering parenting from a Jewish perspective. The class was very interesting and the Temple provides childcare. We're hoping that they will continue to offer similar classes. Marc is reading the Bible, because a good understanding of the Bible enhances a meaningful discussion of Judaism and religion. Reading the Bible is raising a lot of questions. We'd both like to take a class teaching us what Judaism's answers to these questions are.
Thanksgiving weekend was a blast! Jonathan's school was closed starting on Wednesday, so Marc took the day off of work and we went down to the new Long Beach Aquarium that just opened. It's really nice and a good size for the age of our kids. Since it was a weekday, it wasn't that crowded. Benjamin was fascinated. He could have spent the entire day just staring at a single tank. Jonathan loved it too.
Thanksgiving Day, we tried to reduce the clutter in the playroom selecting a bunch of toys to give away. After filling two large boxes with toys, it really seemed like we hadn't reduced the clutter at all! Our children are so deprived -- NOT! Thanksgiving dinner was at Jackie's mom's house. It was neat, because several people have either moved to LA recently or were visiting, so there were lots of new faces.
The next day, Jackie had a meeting in the Palisades (for pay!) so the whole family went down. Marc and the boys went for a hike while Jackie had her meeting, and then afterwards we all went to the Santa Monica pier. The boys played on the beach for a long time, and then, after lunch, Benjamin got his first amusement park ride without a parent with him. While he was on the ride, we couldn't tell whether or not he liked it. He must have though, because afterwards he cried because we wouldn't let him go on again. We took him on the carousel instead, and that made him happy. After we got home, Marc took Jonathan to a movie. They saw "A Bug's Life," which they enjoyed very much.
Another good thing that happened was that Jonathan's school evaluated his speech (at our request) and decided that he would benefit from training on pronouncing "r"s and "l"s. So he will attend a class once a week. Jonathan was excited about participating in this class.
T-Ball clinic ended, and now Jonathan wants to play on a league. However, if playing T-ball conflicts with playing soccer, then he would rather play soccer. He really likes soccer. His soccer team is undefeated (not that we keep score!) We hope he will continue to like it when he gets on a team that loses sometimes! His bowling continues to improve. His average is about 66, which is typical for bumper bowling. (Bumper bowling means there are no gutters in the bowling lanes).
Benjamin continues to be a delight. He is adding words to his vocabulary, slowly but surely. Now he says, "ma-ma" and "kitty" spontaneously. Mostly, November was "E" month. His new words include, "peas" (please), "cheese," "knee," "bee," and the letter "B". Non-E words include "up," and "ride." He also says "bu" (for Pooh), "ow" (for Owl), "ee-o" (for eeyore) and "ru" (for Roo)! Benjamin added two two-word sentences to his repertoire: "Bye-bye baby" and "Hi Daddy!" He loves imitating us. We can entertain him for hours with a game we call "Monkey See, Monkey Do." It's the same as "Simon Says," but without the "Simon" part. He also wants us to sing "The Wheels on the Bus" over and over and over and over again. With Jonathan the "over and over and over again" song was "Old MacDonald."
Hope life is treating you right!
Jackie, Marc, Jonathan and Benjamin