Zev Family Newsletter: February 1999

February's story started in January, when we were searching for a nanny to watch Benjamin and take Jonathan to school so that Jackie could go back to work. We needed someone who could speak English and who could drive, and we preferred someone legal. We knew the search wasn't going to be easy, which is why we started in January even though Jackie wasn't going back to work until the end of March.

In January, Jackie offhandedly mentioned to a friend that we were looking for a nanny, and the friend told us she was letting her nanny (Rossibel) go -- her legal, English-speaking nanny who can drive. We could not believe our luck! But, we ran into a snag -- we only needed someone 5 1/2 hours a day, and Rossibel wanted full-time work (or at least full-time pay!) So when January ended, we were still searching for a nanny.

We soon found that the rates for English-speaking nannies that can drive are higher than we thought. We could hire Rossibel full-time for less or about the same as what some nannies wanted for part-time work. And Rossibel was willing to keep the house clean. The glowing reference from Jackie's friend was another powerful plus. Jackie ran the numbers and found that (taking taxes into account) she could cover the difference between what we wanted to pay for someone part-time and hiring Rossibel full-time by working an extra hour each day. So we succumbed to fate, fired the cleaning crew and hired Rossibel.

Although Jackie is not going back to work until the end of March, we hired Rossibel the second week of February. Jackie is writing an upgrade for a piece of software her brother wrote, and she wanted it done before she went back to work. We hired Rossibel in February to give Jackie the extra time to finish this project, and so that the kids (well, Benjamin) could get used to Rossibel with Jackie around.

In term of work accomplished, February was not as successful as Jackie hoped. The first week, Jackie got no work done, but she expected that. The second week was much better. The third week would also have been good, except that Jackie indulged herself with a midday trip to the movies and a trip to Houston for her cousin's Bat Mitzvah.

Rossibel is great with the kids, but we expected that. What we did not expect was that our house would look so good all of the time. Now we understand why people have housekeepers!

The only snags have been minor. Snag #1 is that Rossibel has trouble telling Marc's and Jackie's clothes apart. We have learned to look in each other's drawers for our clothes. Snag #2 was that when we were doing our own laundry, it would take so long to complete the cycle of washing, drying, folding and putting clothes back into drawers, that we never had all of our socks or underwear in the drawers at once. Once Rossibel started doing the laundry, we needed more drawer space!

The Houston trip was both a blast and heart breaking, because Marc and the boys stayed in LA. On one hand it was wonderful to get through a day without having to plan around and deal with the eating and sleeping needs of two small boys. On the other hand, Jackie missed all three of her boys terribly. She went to Houston on Thursday, and by Friday night she was wondering how she was going to make it to Sunday. But make it she did, and four days of uninterrupted adult conversations was a much-treasured pleasure.

Even more than the conversation, Jackie really enjoyed the Bat Mitzvah. The service was the closest Jackie has found to the type of services she attended in Israel (when she was 16) which is still her favorite. Mali, the bat-mitzvah girl, was very impressive. She clearly knew much more than your typical 13-year old becoming a Bat Mitzvah. Mali's Bat Mitzvah showed how fully Judaism is a part of her life. Kudos to her and to her parents for creating the environment that would develop such a good kid.

Benjamin's long awaited word explosion happened in February. Near the beginning of the month, Jackie decided to write down all of Benjamin's words, so that she could see how many he had. He had about 70 words, depending on the criteria used to define "word." (For example, he says "meatball" very clearly, but we don't think he has any concept associated with it -- so does it count as a word?) By the end of the month, we had given up trying to track all his words, because he seemed to be saying new ones every day. During February, he also learned to count to three. He was also clearly beginning to grasp the idea of color. It was so exciting to watch him develop right in front of us.

Last month, we forgot to mention that Jackie weaned Benjamin. We had hoped to go on vacation without the kids in February or March (which did not happen!) and weaning was a prerequisite. It was not particularly momentous. We were down to once a day in the morning, so Jackie just brought Benjamin downstairs and fed him breakfast rather than bringing him to bed and nursing. The weaning was easy. Giving up being able to go back to sleep in the mornings was the hard part. The reason we mention this is that, now weaned, Benjamin got to go on his first sleepover. He handled it like a pro. Marc and Jackie are looking forward to many more in the future!

Now that we have a housekeeper to watch Benjamin, Jackie could help out in Jonathan's classroom. So once a week, she would come with Jonathan to school and help out. Typically, she (and the other parent helping) would take half the kids (8) into another room and help them with an art project. Jonathan is thrilled that she is able to help, but she is not sure she will be able to continue once she goes back to work.

Jonathan had (what appeared to be) an irritated pimple on his leg, so we put a Band-Aid on it to protect it from further irritation. When we took the Band-Aid off a week later, the site appeared infected. The doctor put him on antibiotics and said to use hot compresses 4 times a day. Although it took a couple of weeks, eventually the combination of antibiotics and compresses cleared up the infection. Jonathan was a trouper, and was better at remembering the compresses than we were!

The doctor also took a look at a group of "bumps" on his tush and said that they were the result of a virus called mollescum contagiosum that is common in kids, and harmless. She also said that the bumps would eventually go away on their own, and although they are contagious (in fact, Benjamin has them too) they do not need to be treated.

That's all for now (whew!)

Jackie, Marc, Jonathan and Benjamin

Last updated 4/12/99.