Zev Family Newsletter: June 1999

Note: The links are to recent pictures (one picture per person)


Cousin Michael's Birthday
Jackie's haircut
Last bowling - 3-foot trophy
Benjamin doesn't break his leg
Disk crash
Jordan's Bat Mitzvah
Benjamin sick
Brad's Bar Mitzvah
Unity slate
Fathers' Day
School ends - Report cards
Camp begins
Marc's work
Marc's Birthday
Jackie's project is cancelled, but then reinstated.

June 1st was Cousin Michael's 6th birthday and his party was planned for 11:30 am on his birthday (a Tuesday). Normally Jonathan would have school 11:20 to 2:40 and would not be able to go, but someone clearly likes Jonathan, because a pupil free day was scheduled for that day, and he didn't have to miss a thing. At the party, they had a bouncer and a snowcone machine. The snowcone machine was a special treat. Later on that day, when Michael was asked how many snowcones he had that day, he responded, "Nine!" We didn't really think he was right, but he could have been!

Jackie got disgusted with a string of mediocre perms. Rather than get another one, she cut her hair to its shortest point in ten years. At first, she wasn't sure she liked it, but once she got used to it, she decided the new look was a keeper.

Jonathan had his last bowling game of the season. After the game, they had an award ceremony where they passed out trophies and pizza. When we walked into the room, the trophies formed a big wedge on a table, with the tallest on the left and the shortest on the right. As Jonathan was in the youngest league, and the league had only two teams, we figured his trophy would be one of the smallest. No Way! The three trophies that the three members of Jonathan's team received for coming in first (out of two) were the largest on the table. And then Jonathan received another trophy (slightly smaller) for having the highest individual score (with handicap). The trophy is so tall that it won't fit on any of Jonathan's shelves. We were flabbergasted, but it made him happy!

Benjamin, whose nickname is "frog boy" for his incessant hopping, was running around upstairs and crashed into the couch in his room. He started crying and saying that his leg hurt. We calmed him down and put him to bed, figuring that it would be cleared up in the morning. The next morning, Benjamin was still limping and saying that it hurt, so we took him to the emergency room for x-rays. Five x-rays later, we went home with instructions to keep him off his feet and he'd be fine within 24 hours. Keep frog boy off his feet! Stopping a stampeding rhinoceros might be easier!

Jackie was stressing over her inability to do backups of her computer that she could take out of the house. She was backing up one computer onto the other, but this would not suffice in the event of a fire or theft. So she bought a CD writeable drive and put her data on CD. Not too long after purchasing the drive and getting it to work, she was having trouble cutting a CD due to file corruption. She ran a program that will fix corrupted files, and it quickly became apparent that her entire hard drive was in pretty poor shape. So she bought a new hard drive. She had hoped simply to copy the entire old drive onto the new one, but the old drive was not in good enough shape to manage this. So she had to reinstall every piece of software and all of the drivers from every piece of hardware all over again. It was a very painful week before everything was back in order. Even now, there are programs she had downloaded from the Internet than she needs to track down and download again. Fortunately (thanks to the timely CD writeable drive purchase) she lost very little of her data, so she didn't have that heartache.

The big event in June was our niece Jordan becoming a Bat Mitzvah. She did an amazing job. She ran most of the service, read perfectly from the Torah, gave an excellent speech and had amazing poise for a 13-year old. The service ended with Havdalah. Jordan's brother, Mitchell, and Mitchell's cousins (except Benjamin) passed out spice boxes that Jonathan and Mitchell had made for the Havdalah service. As our wedding had started with Havdalah, the service brought back all sorts of pleasant memories.

Jordan received some nice gifts. Best of all was a trip to Israel from (and with) her grandparents. A pretty nice gift, but everyone felt that she had earned it.

The party after the service was Black Tie Optional. This sounds a little extreme until you realize that nobody had to rent a tux. Jordan's father, brother, great uncle, one of her uncles (Marc), one of her grandfathers and Benjamin all own their own tuxes. Benjamin's is a hand-me down from Jonathan, which originally came from Mitchell. It turns out that a tux for a boy can actually be cheaper than a suit. Jonathan's tux cost $42 and it came with a shirt and tie and cummerbund. A suit at JC Penney's would cost around $50 and would not come with a shirt and tie. The tux we got for Jonathan matched Marc's and the one we have for Benjamin is very similar.

Of course, it wouldn't be a Zev event without someone getting sick. In this case, it was Benjamin. He was running a fever, had a runny nose and was NOT a happy camper. The day of the Bat Mitzvah, he would not fall asleep for his nap, and once he did he slept and slept and slept. When he woke up, he was very crabby. He would not put on the tux - even with Jonathan and Marc wearing theirs.

Jonathan was supposed to be an usher, and it soon became apparent that the clothing issue was not going to be resolved in time for us all to go to Temple together. So Marc and Jonathan went on ahead, while Jackie pleaded with Benjamin to no avail. He ended up wearing blue pants and a blue turtleneck (in June!) Jackie and Benjamin managed to get to Temple before Marc and Jackie's aliyah, much to Marc's great relief. At first, Benjamin was quiet and came up with us onto the bima for the aliyah (and even chanted along with Jordan as she read from the Torah!) A little while after the aliyah, he seemed to perk up, and wanted Daddy to read him from a book we had brought for him to look at. Marc was willing to do this, but this was not enough to keep Benjamin quiet, as he thunderously demanded "READ!" every time Marc paused to turn a page.

We had already arranged with Jackie's parents to pick up Benjamin after the service, during the cocktail hour before dinner. Once he left, we heaved a collective sigh of relief. We had drilled into Jonathan that, although he could stay to the end of the party, (around midnight) if he got tired and stopped having a good time, he should tell us and we would have Grandpa pick him up. Around 10, (2 hours past his bedtime!) he told us he was tired and home he went. Jackie and Marc stayed until the end. We had a really good time dancing and playing with all the toys that were handed out. Jonathan brought home a pretty good stash - and conscientiously made sure he got stuff for Benjamin also. What a good brother - we are very proud of him.

After 5 days of fluctuating temperatures - spiking as high as 104.3 on the 4th night, we took Benjamin to the doctor and discovered he had a viral throat infection and an ear infection. He was put on antibiotics that we had to force him to take. Before this illness, he loved taking medicine and was upset if Jonathan *got* to take some and he couldn't. Now all you had to do is mention medicine and he would cry. It was very sad and difficult. Fortunately for our sanity, as the days went by he, got better and better about taking the medicine. While he never went back to his original state of eagerly sucking down medicine, he got to a point were he would take it without being forced as long as you were reading to him as you gave him the medicine.

A week after Jordan became a Bat Mitzvah, we attended another one (it never rains but it pours.) We had originally planned on bringing both boys, but after our experience the week before, Marc stayed home with Benjamin and only Jackie and Jonathan went. The service was in the morning and the party was in the evening, so missing the service did not mean missing the party. Jonathan was an angel, sitting nicely though the service, which lasted more than two hours.

Both Jackie and her mom are members of the American Association of University Women (AAUW), a nationwide organization of over 150,000 members. Earlier in the year some of the leaders of AAUW's Educational Foundation (AAUW-EF) took actions with the potential for deeply divisive consequences. Many members, including Jackie's mom, were very concerned. A group, calling itself the Unity Committee, formed and decided to put together a slate of candidates to run against the Board of Directors that had taken these actions. The committee asked Jackie's mom to run for President of the AAUW-EF Board of Directors.

With the slate of candidates recruited, the committee faced the daunting task of getting the word out, with less than a month remaining before the election. Jackie was asked to develop a website explaining what had happened, who was running on the Unity Slate, what their qualifications were, and listing supporters of the slate. The volume of material was daunting, but in less than a week, the website was up. Thanks to Marc, it was not only informative, but it looked good, too.

Fortunately for the committee, the website went up a few days before Jackie's hard disk problems became serious. Updating the list of supporters kept Jackie busy each night (except when she was dealing with her hard disk) as, in little more than a week, the list grew to over 200 supporters.

Less than 2 weeks after the website went up, Jackie's parents flew to Washington D.C. for the AAUW convention. On Fathers' Day, Jackie received a call from her mom saying that the entire Unity Slate had been elected and, better yet, they had been elected by a landslide! What a mandate! Since 6 years ago Jackie's mom was President of AAUW, she is no stranger to directing large corporations. We are very proud of her.

Speaking of Fathers' Day, usually Marc's sister hosts a barbecue and swimfest, but between Jordan's Bat Mitzvah the week before, helping Jordan study for finals and Jordan's trip to Israel a few days after Fathers' Day, the timing was not auspicious. Instead, we honored Marc's father with a quiet gift exchange the weekend before. Since Jackie's father went to Washington D.C. with her mother, this year Marc had his first Fathers' Day where he was the sole focus of attention. He loved it. We took him to an Irish Festival at the Santa Anita Racetrack and spent the morning seeing what it would be like to be Irish. We especially liked the sheep herding dog exhibition.

The week after Fathers' Day was the last week of school for Jonathan. It was a crazy week, with two days where he needed to go to school 8:00-11:20 instead of 11:20-2:40. Jonathan liked it, however, because he had no homework and a party on Friday. On the last day of school, Jonathan brought his report card home. He received all "O"s (outstanding, the highest mark) and had no tardys or absences. We were very proud of him.

Camp started the following week. This summer, Jonathan is going to the North Valley Jewish Community Center camp three days a week. His best friend, Sean, is also going to the JCC on the same schedule and they are in the same group. After two years of being joined at the hip at preschool, they went to Kindergarten at different schools. It is nice that they can be together every week again. Jonathan didn't have a "special friend" in Kindergarten they way he did in preschool. However, the two children that he liked the best are the two sweetest kids in his class, so we have asked that they stay together into first grade.

June was a stressful month for Marc at work. He was working on a proposal, which is always stressful, but this one was worse than usual due to its unusual format. Most proposals are 40 pages of technical jargon, which, once printed and mailed, can be forgotten until the unlikely event you are told that you won. This proposal was a 90-minute presentation with accompanying slides. No text in paragraph form at all, just bullets and pictures on slides. This type of proposal was new for Marc's work, so he broke new ground in creating it - always stressful. Another source of stress was that the proposal slides were due July 7 and the exact date of the presentation would not be known until after that. It could fall during our July 10-16 vacation, which had been planned since March. Marc announced that he would not change our vacation, We were concerned that the presentation would be scheduled for the week immediately following our vacation, giving Marc no time to prepare. More on this next month.

Marc's Birthday fell on a Monday this year. There was some doubt whether he would get to celebrate it at all because of the proposal. However, he was able to take off the Saturday before and we went out to dinner with his mother and sister and family. Marc was also able to leave early on his birthday and his boys took him out for a nice quiet dinner. It was a nice break from the chaos at work.

Work presented a small rollercoaster for Jackie too, but everything worked out fine in the end. In mid June, the contract she was working on was cancelled by the prime contractor. The contract involves software upgrades to the country's Early Warning Radar system. The prime contractor felt that the work that Jackie's company was doing was not essential, and was using people that could be doing other work that was essential. Jackie's bosses took action, and within a week, the contract was reinstated. However, the reinstated contract is different than the original. The software has several different configurations, depending on what hardware is being used, and originally we were supporting all of the configurations. Now we are focused on one of the configurations, which should greatly improve our odds of being able to deliver working software on schedule. It will still be a lot of work, but we've got a good team and a good process in place. 'Til next month!

Jackie, Marc, Jonathan and Benjamin