Monday, December 5, 2016

Suit, Chinese test, cable solution.

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Vince is rocking Jeremy's all black suit.  He needs a suit for next week's orchestra performance.  All I had to do was order the bow tie.  Those are the shoes Jeremy wore at our wedding.  They are too small for Jeremy now (somehow he grew a shoe size or he bought these slightly too small), but they will do for Vince.

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Two goofballs studying for a Chinese exam tomorrow.

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Saving us from ourselves.  For years, we've had this central charging station that always gets decimated - we pull wires from it when we can't find our other wires and then when you need a particular charging wire, it's gone from its proper place.  Today, Jeremy bought a 10-port USB charging box and semi-permanently attached the wires so that none of us will pull the wires from it.  Now we can charge Android phones, old iPads, lightening cable iPhones, old microUSB devices.  I think we have only 4 kinds of wires.  I'll have to check.  We'll see how long this lasts.

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Sunday, December 4, 2016

Poker, Cheetos, spoon rings.

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Saturday night in Rockville!  Holiday parties galore.  I went to these parties on my own which takes a bit of psyching up for me, but I'm glad I did because I had a good time.

First up, poker night - Texas Hold 'em.  $20 buy-in.  35 people.  Prompt start at 7:30 pm.  Random table assignments brought me to sit at the dealer position at my table.  I asked if I start the deal with 5 cards?  Or maybe 7 cards?  Turns out you start with a deal of 2 cards.  Slightly embarrassing, maybe I should have read up on poker beforehand just a tiny bit.  I learned all these words:  burn a card, big blind, little blind, check, button.  I already know "fold" from that Kenny Rogers song.  I did have a really nice evening learning about poker for about an hour before I lost all my money and I ate a lot of Cheetos and melted cheese dip which always makes a good dinner, but something about risking money and bluffing (aka lying) and chance makes it all the things I get nervous and anxious about even though I know I'm suppose to do it for fun and have already agreed with myself that I'm willing to lose the $20.

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I actually needed to lose the money quickly, so I could go to the 2nd party and be home by 10 pm because I like to party not-hard (the poker game, I found out today, lasted until 2 am).  I went to a more traditional holiday party where the host's brother was selling jewelry made out of tableware.  I bought a ring made from a small spoon.  And I had a nice chat about old fashioned DC law firms which are slowly disappearing. I didn't make it home by 10, I was about 30 min late on my own personal curfew.

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Saturday, December 3, 2016

IEP, ice hockey, drills.

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On Friday, Jeremy and I went to Edda's school for the annual IEP meeting.  Individual Education Program? Planning?  Anyways, we went in confident and happy.  Gone (for now, who knows about the future) are the days where I'd have to clear the whole day after the meeting to just cry and feel sorry for myself.  Edda's happy = I'm happy.  Edda's team at Cabin John are professional and caring and are working on goals that are appropriate for Edda.  I especially love her OT who is working on hand grabbing and releasing - mainly with food as a motivator.  We've seen it a few times at home, where Edda'll grab a forkful of food and put it to her mouth.  Edda's working in the cafeteria loading bags of chips into a machine? or into a rack?  All teachers and therapists say that she's more willing to work on her goals this year as opposed to last year where she would pull her hands away, or fall asleep or give them the side eye glare.   Goals and progress - Edda's taught me that there is honor in getting up everyday and trying and then not making very much progress and then getting up again and trying again.  What's that line about imagining Sisyphus happy?  Oh yes, Camus.  Hmmm, maybe he's not the most cheerful guy?...oh well.

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After the meeting we went to Montgomery Mall food court for lunch.  We were there at the same time as Churchill's open lunch.  I could not stop looking at the ice hockey team. Twelve guys, dressed up in ties (an away game?) and with their varsity jackets on.  Those guys are Vince's age, and really, they look so handsome, such young men.  What happened to our children?  What is happening to us? I'm so far from that age now - did we look that way when we were 16 hanging out at the mall?  Full of confidence and youthfulness?  I guess so.  I can't really believe it.

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Dad's double drills were delivered a few days ago.

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He promptly went to work building this stand:

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For his very own beer fridge.  He intends to also put sliced ham and cheese in it to make himself a ham and cheese sandwich whenever he wants to.

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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Andy, bow, pomodoro.

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I met up with Andy for lunch today.  We went to Jimmy Johns - my favorite sandwich place.  I like to get the roast beef and then put potato chips into the sandwich and eat it all together.  Crunch, crunch, crunch.  We talked a lot about horses and cinematography.  Also books!  I met Andy through an online book club.  Andy reads a lot of books (probably more than one a week), but he's a book thrifter, so I can't resist getting him new-ish books that I think he might like.  This time I got him Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman and Ready Player One by Earnest Cline.  I've read neither - though Jeremy loved Thinking Fast and Slow and Ready Player One is being made into a movie by Steven Spielberg for release in 2018.

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Vince got his new, fancy to him (though still not fancy in the world of fancy violins and bows), carbon fiber violin bow.  When I told Bob that Kelly (Vince's violin teacher) told me that Vince's old bow wasn't worth rehairing, he was shocked.  Shocked!  I forget what Bob said exactly, but it was something like - that's like giving away the dog when he needs a good grooming.

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This term, though a slog as it always is midway through any term, is going well for Vince.  He's really tracking his assignments much better, he's preparing for tests, he's following rubrics.  It's so much better than last term, though exhaustion does set in for both him and me.  I'm trying to go incrementally and not demand perfection which is my tendency and which is not Vince's tendency. There are pros and cons to each approach, I see how trying to perfect things led me to lots of heartache and grief.  There is a sweet spot in there, trying hard but not too hard. Now comes the real challenge for Vince to manage.  It's the challenge of writing your paper on the laptop and then not getting sucked into the vortex of the internet.  This is the productivity trap we all suffer from.  I told him my tricks, the main one being the 20 min on, 5 min off trick (which I've now learned is called the pomodoro technique).   Twenty min of focused concentration and then a 5 min break set with a true timer or stopwatch.  I did this way back in college when I'd study two days for every exam.  Hours and hours in the library and the internet didn't even exist back then.  My 5 min break would be sneaking (who was I sneaking from?  myself?  I'm ridiculous.) upstairs to the 2nd floor where the MIT library inexplicably had a subscription to People Magazine. I felt so efficient back then.  I'm much less efficient now.  I can tell when I try to study this second time around, my brain is sloppier and clumsier.  It's less certain with twirling the information around like a baton aflame and throwing it up in the air and catching it behind my back with my eyes closed.  I can do it, but I drop it more often on the floor than I used to.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Not turkey, pork chops, tomorrow's mystery dinner.

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Let's continue with dinner as a theme for this week.  Tonight, not turkey!  Pork chops, thank goodness.  The package came with only four pork chops, but we have five mouths to feed (Adriana is here on Wed nights), so Jeremy sliced the chops into strips.

What should I cook tomorrow night?  Hmmmm....



Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Thankful, final exam, enchilada.

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I go through the paper mail only once a week.  There is a special time I do it (usually Sat mornings), and if I don't get to it then, a whole 'nuther week might pass before I get a chance to sit down and rip open all the envelopes.  Sometimes 2 or 3 weeks will pass.  Never 4 weeks, because there is a sneaky bill in there somewhere that still comes on paper once every 4 weeks (though I'm sometimes late paying this bill).  So today, when I was going through the paper mail, I opened this little Thanksgiving missive from Edda.  Edda's class is a community based class - it's suppose to teach them skills to be independent in the community - they go to the post office to practice sending mail, to the grocery store to practice buying food, to the library to practice checking out books.  I'm thankful for my family too Edda-mame.

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I took my final for my only class in nursing school today.  Such an early end to my term!  It's glorious!

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I celebrated the gloriousness of it all by deep-frying corn tortillas....

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....to make turkey (day 5) enchiladas for dinner.  We are done with turkey for another year!

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Monday, November 28, 2016

Mushroom, pie crust, turkey pot pie.

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Leftover mushrooms and turkey (still).

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Store-bought pie crusts.

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Turkey pot pie.

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Sunday, November 27, 2016

Whoopie cushion, sushi, Overwatch.

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Look!  Edda's wearing one of my bibs.

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Donald came over to hang out - helped Vince do some homework.

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Meanwhile Vince was driving us crazy with the whoopie cushion Kiki had brought.

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Jeremy went out bike riding - gorgeous day.

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We went out to sushi.

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We came home and napped (well I napped) and Edda laughed.

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Donald played Overwatch for the first time with some of Vince's (real-life) pals.

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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Charlotte, tux, sewing with the Gilmore Girls.

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Charlotte and friends came over today and we had a delicious late lunch of --- turkey sandwiches.  Even after this lunch and the turkey wraps we had for dinner, we still have enough turkey to make a pot pie for tomorrow night's dinner.  Maxi was being trained the entire time we were sitting down.  We trained her when she was a puppy, but had pretty much forgotten about the training for 3-4 years.  Now back to training.

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Donald came by on his way to a black tie wedding in downtown DC.  Looking sharp.  He bought this tux special for this occasion of a wedding of a high school friend.  Though the invitation clearly said "black tie" he thinks he might be the only person showing up in a tux.  I just hope the groom is wearing a tux.  It's bad form to be more formally dressed than the groom.  Maybe it's west-coast-black-tie?  Black hoodie?

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Vince really wanted to learn how to use the sewing machine.

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Here he is making one of Edda's bibs.

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I watched some Gilmore Girls tonight.

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Damn, look at that edge.

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Sewing, walking with Maxi, Taiwanese dinner.

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Friday morning, I headed over to Virginia to see my friend Vickey and her mom, Gina.  Gina is my serious enthusiast sewing person.  She can make any sewed item - costumes, quilts, suit jackets, curtains, seat cushions, she's altered her daughter's wedding dresses taking care of beading and fancy lace trim.  She has 4 sewing machines, 3 of which are close to $1000, but she has one inexpensive portable one that she takes to quilting classes and she recommended that I buy that one - $140 - to use for Edda's bibs.

She spent the morning teaching me how to use the machine and a number of different approaches to making Edda's bibs.  Some approaches mimick the blanket stitch that I used when I hand-make Edda's bibs and others using fancier finishing techniques for the edges.

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She gave me the cutest sewing box too!

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Filled with all the great sewing things ever - extra bobbins, all colors of thread, extra scissors.  It's really fun to learn something from someone who really loves the thing they are teaching you and has spent years thinking about it - it almost doesn't matter what it is.  Now I'm dreaming of quilts and dresses - maybe someday.  Or maybe it'll just be a stack of Edda's bibs.

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We went walking in the afternoon at the C&O canal.

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Maxi happily joined the walk.  She's adjusting to being an only dog which deserves its own blog post.  As an aside, the vet dropped Ruby's ashes off on Thanksgiving day, just as the party was starting, so Ruby was home for Thanksgiving.  I was a little bummed that she didn't live a few more weeks to have the turkey as it is her (and every dog's) favorite holiday.

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That evening the whole set of Edda and Vince's grandparents went out to dinner - we went to Taipei Cafe, where we ordered a bunch of dishes which made us all nostalgic for Taiwan!

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Friday, November 25, 2016

Tables, camera, dishes

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Jeremy pulled off another wonderful Thanksgiving.  People do come up to me as they are leaving to thank me for hosting, but it really is all Jeremy.  I'm just along for the ride.  Jeremy was a little worried that the turkey was overcooked (final temp 190 vs the recommended 145-165), but I thought it was delicious.  He kept asking me, do you think I should make more gravy? and I kept telling him, yes, please make more gravy, I don't think it's enough.

We rearranged the tables into L-shaped islands.  Someone thought we should have round tables this year, but round tables don't fit into the minivan very well, we'd have to pay the extra $50 for delivery.  This turned out pretty nice.

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Edda and I shared this plate.

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Earlier in the morning, I texted Eric to ask if he could bring some equipment for a group photo.  I suggested a wide lens and a flash.  He took my request seriously and brought camera bags full of equipment.  And then he told me that he thought we'd needed to move the tables out of the way and pose everyone and the whole thing would take 30 minute.  I'm like - 30 min?!?.  He said, yes, in my professional experience, it'll take 30 minutes.

The kids wanted to see a movie and they needed to leave by 7:15, but I was nervous if I moved the tables, then the party would break up soon thereafter and I didn't want thanksgiving to end early.  But we shoved the tables to the side and Eric set up his equipment.

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This is us without flash waiting for Eric to test out his lights.  He had some crazy control from his phone?  Maybe he could even see the photo from his phone?

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I needn't have worried about breaking up the party.  Jane tried to do a mannequin challenge video.  There were outtakes from cousins and various relatives in different groups.

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And finally - there were a lot of dishes.  Thank goodness for the dishwasher!

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Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy thanksgiving.

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From our house to yours!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Grandma, penny hockey, moving furniture.

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I stood in a long line today at the party rental place.  Thirty? Thirty-five people are coming to the house tomorrow for Thanksgiving.  Fewer than it has been before, but still enough for a par-tay.  We needed tables, chairs and extra plates. I started talking to this person in front of me who, because of the context of the conversation that we had, thought I was a grandma.  She asked how many grandchildren I had.  Hahaha.  I'm so old.

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Vince had a half day today.  We picked him up and went to Five Guys which was filled with teenagers from his high school.  We stepped back a bit to observe Vince in his school-but-not-school environment.  Like at the Peach Pit in Beverly Hills 90210.

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We had hot pot dinner at mom and dad's house.

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Donald and Vince found Donald's penny hockey board that Donald made in high school.  Donald said he carried that board around all the time in high school and he and his pals would play all the time.

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Maxi stole a plate of chicken off the kitchen counter.  Dad asked for a set of drills and a snowblower for his birthday.  The snowblower may come with a certain teenager to push the snowblower when it actually snows.

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Two turkeys are defrosted and in the fridge.  Jeremy pre-carved them.  All the dark meat together, all the white meat together and wings in another tray.  We'll see how this approach goes.  Jeremy likes making the turkey differently every year.  This is not the year of the beer can turkey.

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The house is getting rearranged.

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Some things get their yearly cleaning or maintenance.  Like this wooden table we bought in downtown Palo Alto when we were first married and were stupidly confident that we were done buying and more IKEA furniture.  The coffee tabled got a layer of oil, you can almost hear the pores in the wood sighing with relief against the dry weather.

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