Saturday, October 31, 2009

Trick or treating!

Steve, Blue and Pikachu headed out for a night of trick-or-treating!

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Here are the boys counting their loot. Edda is out cold.

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Right now, Jeremy and Vince are collecting data to make a graph of types of candy. Chocolate is up, other sweets like sweet tarts and skittles are down.

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Halloween party.

So I missed both of the kid's Halloween parties at school and Jeremy managed to go to about 30 minutes of Vince's, just enough to see the parade and not much else. Here they are in the morning. We tried to make their costumes with as much "regular" clothes as we could, I think we did pretty well.

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The orange crocs were not part of the costume, but I think they make the costume.

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Vince complained bitterly at dinner last night that the room parents had the audacity to hand out GRAPES for Halloween! (Gasp, how awful). Then I unpacked Edda's backpack this morning and told Vince that he wasn't the only one who didn't get candy, Edda got a surgical glove full of veggie puffs (and 5 candy corn). I could only look at this glove in amazement. Someone put really effort into making this Halloween treat. Wow.

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wish you were here.

Calling all grandparents of Edda and Vincie!

Tomorrow: two simultaneous Halloween parades and parties at two different locations, two excited kids all ready to be sugared up. Two working parents who actually need to do some paid work tomorrow during said Halloween parades and parties. It would be nice to have some back-up here...

I miss you all and wish you were closer (and so do the kiddos)...

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sick day.

Eliana was sick today, so Jeremy and I tagged teamed the child care, Jeremy took care of the morning (Edda's bus was 20 minutes late) and I hustled home after my last meeting to pick Edda up from school and high-tail it to a 3pm therapy session. It's a little embarrassing to admit as it is the end of October, but I have never before driven to Edda's school by myself, so I had to GPS it. Ahh, the trials of a working mom. :)

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I have talked before about my general dislike of therapy, so it was refreshing to see Edda enjoying herself at therapy - lots of laughing and giggling and lots of good eye contact between Edda and Deb - Edda pretty much ignored me during the session.

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I love many of the therapists that we've worked with over the years, they have helped me through some rough emotional patches. I rely on them for advice and comfort because 1. they love Edda and 2. they work with lots of families with kids with special needs so I need them for perspective and I've found their advice comforting and very helpful.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Little updates.

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Jeremy: Last night he lost his voice and today he went to Newark to give a talk. He says it went OK - voice wise. I haven't yet got the complete lowdown on the actual talk.

Doris:
I've been sneaking Cheetoes at work. I'm all signed up to work from home - first day November 20th.

Vincent: He's loving Cub Scouts. For those who don't know, there is a long checklist of things you have to do to earn badges. Last night he made a birdhouse - used a hammer which was one of tasks on the checklist. There is a random screw in the top of birdhouse, because he had to master the "using a screwdriver" task.

Edda: School's going well. We are past the being asleep all day phase. Now she's pretty active and alert all day. Her right arm just went all rigid on me - hypertonic. I know she's transitioning from hypo to hyper, I just preferred hypo.

Eliana: I came home today to find her not feeling too well. I think she probably needs to sleep in all day tomorrow. She's decided to stay and help us out until the end of next year! Awesome.

Ruby: Still the best dog ever.

3rd Week of Our 12-Hr Shifts

This is the 3rd week of our 12-hr shifts. Mom works from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM & I work from 6:00 PM to 6:00 AM. Every morning at 6:00 AM and, again, at 6:00 PM in the evening, we huddle together to go over our "Engr Log" & "Things-to-do List" on plant's piping systems for turn-over. Sometimes, I wonder they are just our FAMILY laundry lists.

So far so good. Some days & nights were very busy - the field craftsmen were waiting for our approval on their field changes due to interference (eg., can't be built) or something else (eg., a tight spot) Upon approval, we were continue busy to get our paper work in order. This paper work is the legal document required prior to firing up the Reactor - going critical.

Some nights were not busy at all, just like tonight. Things are pretty slow ... zzz

And, besides working, Mom always keeps our refrigerator full. Does anyonte believe that a -> 68 year old man will suffer from hanger because his wife is working during his chow times?:) Anyway, twice a day, I can't wait until "6:00" to see Mom.

Well, Nuclear Power isn't 100% safe. But, nothing is 100% safe or even 90% safe. As a matter of fact, Nuclear Power is pretty safe and environmentally friendly too. Too bad, the current Administration isn't too enthusiastic to build more. Of course, we need to go "green", especially on energy. But, how "green" is "green"? Depends!

People just can't go "green" with much less jobs around. Nuclear Renaissance can bring home the beacon to many Middle-American families (including those of us who work all night), much more than wind and solar combined. And Nuclear Energy is affordable too!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Weekend party.

We hosted an open house this weekend from 3-6 pm in the afternoon. We made delicious cakes and had savories from Trader Joe's. (I really have to figure out this indoor white balance stuff - these photos are painfully yellow).

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Everyone was fashionably late - the earliest person came in at 3:45 and the last group of people came by at 5:30. We were a bit worried that NO ONE would show up, but we had a nice group show up eventually. Here's Vince wondering, "Where is everybody?"

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Farm visit.

Edda's school had a field trip to Sharp's at Waterford Farm. I signed up to help out because I even though Jeremy's been to class two or three times already, I haven't had a chance to meet Edda's teachers, aides and classmates. This field trip involved the whole kindergarden and first grade classes - I'd say about 100-150 kids and parents. Three full buses of kids - all non-staff adults (me and the other parents) had to find our own way to the farm.

I was a little nervous as sometimes Edda can be unhappy at these things. These days I'm in a pretty good mood, so it doesn't bother me that sometimes people stare at Edda when we are out and about if she's doing her "regular" Rett thing, but I really, really, didn't want to be parent with the crying, unhappy, unconsolable special-needs child - which still does happen and even though I can deal with it, it just sucks the life force out of the outing.

Anyways, I shouldn't have worried, I have never seen a happier girl.

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In the pumpkin patch.

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On the hay ride.

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It was so great.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Back in the swing of things.

Jeremy's been in Chicago on business the past few days - he flew back home late last night. I made a tactical error and decided to wait up for him thinking he'd been home by 11pm. He didn't get in until 1 am (flights were delayed) - I had fallen asleep at 11:30 pm, which means I got just under 6 hours of sleep. Six hours of sleep is pretty much the minimum amount of sleep I need in order to do my job properly, otherwise all the scientific and legal arguments I need to make just start blurring together. So I was a little tired today and still trying to kick the last of my illness away. In retrospect I should have gone to sleep with the kids. Now (of course), Jeremy's not feeling well, so he went to bed early tonight. The kids are still holding up well. I'm sure in a few days, they'll be sick too.

We have a huge (10 inch across) mushroom patch in our front yard. Mushrooms are so weird, one day they aren't there, the next day - poof, you've got a huge cluster.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Becoming a nurse.

My cousin-in-law, Christine, just started nursing school this fall. Every week, in addition to classes, she has a full day rotation through a hospital where she shadows a nurse and provides basic patient care to one patient throughout the day - stuff like changing sheets, helping folks to the bathroom, performing vital checks, etc. It's all very exciting to me because 3 years ago - right before I reentered the work force, I was seriously considering going to nursing school myself. I wanted a job where the pay was pretty good and the hours and location needed to be extremely flexible and the potential upswing was high. Nursing sounded like a really good option! I applied, but (obviously) didn't end up going.

Last week, at Sunday night dinner, Christine taught me how to set up a sterile field to do wound care, mainly bedsores, which need to have their dressings changed every 8 hours (I think). Everything comes in a compact sterile box - gauze, gloves, tape?, scissors?:

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Gotta set up your field:

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I'm sure "jazz hands" is part of the official protocol.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Christmas request.

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Dear Mom and Dad,

I have been a good dog this year. Please get the minivan soon. My neck can only take so much of this. I promise I won't steal any more food off the table.

Love,
Ruby

Monday, October 19, 2009

Alamo Drafthouse.

Last Thursday, Vince, Jeremy and I went to the Alamo Drafthouse. The Alamo is a movie theater where you can eat a full meal during the movie and they also serve alcohol. Were we in Austin, TX - the home of the Alamo? No! We were in Winchester, VA - to the Alamo's first franchise outside of Texas! So why did we travel more than 1.5 hours on a work/school night to go to the Alamo?

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Two reasons. First, we did live for a while in Austin, TX where the Alamo is an institution and where we did spend an evening enjoying beers (Jeremy) and waiting for labor to kick in (Doris and Vince), so the three of us have some fondness for the Alamo. Second, it just turns out that my mentor (and good pal) at work is married to the guy who's family is opening the first Alamo movie theater outside of Texas. So we got to go to family and friends night which started about 2 hours after they got the permit to turn on the stoves.

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It's a little fancier than I remembered it being in Austin. Stadium seating with embroidered logos. We saw Up, which freaked our sensitive soul Vince out a little.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.

I went out to Fairfax, VA at 7 am. It was cold. It was raining. Some rental tents were set up outside and we were commiserating that perhaps the fundraiser was going to be a complete washout...

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The silent auction stuff was getting wet:

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I was discouraged.

But with the generosity of the movie theater's manager, we managed to set up inside the lobby and hold the event inside. After people started showing up and creating a more festive atmosphere, we were able to relax, keep warm and give out free coffee and bagels. Donations were collected, most of the silent auction items were shoved into a little corner where people could bid. And most surprisingly and encouragingly, the fundraiser collected about $30,000 at the event, the silent auction made $1,100. There were some families who decided not to come because of the weather and they are sending in their donations in the mail, so the real total will be ready at the end of the month - really not to shabby for a wet and cold Saturday morning. Hooray! Hopefully, we are just a little bit closer to finding a cure for Rett!

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Kiki came down to participate in the stroll. Here we are hours after the walk, still wearing our crazy DC Martins tie-die T-shirts.

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Friday, October 16, 2009

I'm sick.

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Well, it has been a cold, wet week here in the DC metro area. I'm a exhausted and a little sick. Nothing huge happened this week, just a bunch of little things that went awry that made me feel a little blue and now I've caught this cold (not the flu, no fever, no coughing). The weather has not been helping, it's easy to feel blue when the skies seem to cry with you.

I'm feeling the most blue about the Rett Syndrome stroll-a-thon that is scheduled rain/shine for tomorrow. Coordinating the stroll is a huge undertaking (of which my part has been very, very small), so it's just crappy that the weather is so crappy. The temperatures have been hovering in the low 40s (20 degrees colder than the seasonal average) all week and it's predicted to rain all day tomorrow. Brr, not good weather for a stroll. We do have a plan B, we are gathering indoors at the movie theater right in front of the plaza where we would have gathered if the sun was shining. I'm still putting some finishing touches on some of the silent auction materials, I have about an hour's work left, but since I'm sick I think I'm going to go to bed and finish in the morning.

If you'd like to donate to our valiant efforts to cure Rett Syndrome without having to go out in the cold and rain, here's the link:

Donate here!

Be sure to designate "Fairfax, VA" as the program area and "Edda" in the comments for it to count towards our efforts tomorrow. Thank you faithful blog readers - good night to you all.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Great sock sort 2009.

Things are exciting around here.

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Spent some time sorting through all the adult socks after the weekend laundry run, we got rid of the loners and the ones that we never wear. It's a little confusing, the kids are both starting to wear my socks so I think my socks are finding their way into the kids' drawer. As I said, very exciting around here.

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Edda went to the dentist today - she was superb. Didn't fuss through the cleaning, didn't freak out, they even tried to do the panoramic X-ray which means you gotta be still for about 30 seconds. Jeremy and Edda knew it wouldn't work, but you know, and I'm impressed that they even tried. No cavities, but they did mention the "O" word. Orthodontist. For the underbite. Yikes. But not for another 6 months.

I have started running again, this would be Week 4 of my training. I follow the routine in The Runner's Handbook. I'm trying to work up to 30 minutes of running 5 or 6 times a week. I went to my own physical check-up about a week ago and my primary care physician started mentioning that I really needed to increase my calcium intake (at least equivalent to 2 glasses of milk a day) and also to do weight bearing exercise for at least 30 minutes on most days. So I managed to say that I had been running for 2 weeks at the appointment and she said, great! just run as slowly as you can so that you will find it relaxing and that you will want to do it everyday. As for the calcium, I have to admit, I was a bit floored about the 2 cups of milk (I don't know why really, because I do think about it for the kids) - I don't do milk - actually my total fluid intake is quite low, but I'm figuring out how to improve my calcium intake so when I slide into menopause (!), I won't lose too much bone mass.

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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Cheese balls.

Edda loves cheese balls. So perfectly round, so perfectly cheese-y, so perfectly yum. They also happen to come in an enormous jug. How are we going to get rid of a whole jug of cheese balls? One little cheese ball at a time, I suppose.

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Rett Syndrome Awareness Month!

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It's Rett Syndrome Awareness Month! There are so many exciting things happening this month, lots of fundraisers across the country, most notably our own Fairfax Strollathon happening next Saturday morning.

I was having lunch with a friend of mine a few weeks ago and she mentioned that her brother-in-law, who doesn't do Rett research, however, he knows a lot about Rett because he is a MD/PHD student in neurology at Baylor, said that Rett Syndrome is the "hot topic" in developmental neurology. It's nice to hear someone in the trenches of the neurology field and is not affiliated with any Rett organizations say that lots of people are interested in studying RS. Just kind of a knowledgeable independent assessment on how excited researchers are about working on finding out all they can about the Rett gene and how to help girls like Edda.

I know that a lot of the push for job creation in this country is directed to clean energy or "green jobs", but I fervently hope that the next big boom is the boom in biological research. The one that was suppose to happen in the 1990s, but was put off when the internet exploded.

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Paul came by for an 18-hour visit (he was in town for a conference). He works at Ohio State, and I guess they are the "Buckeyes".. For whatever reason, I thought that Buckeyes were a kind of horse or donkey, but they are actually nuts and Paul got Edda this fabulous buckeye nut necklace.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Uncle Eric.

Jeremy's cousin Eric is a professional camera dude - he's done a bunch of stuff in the movies, it all sounds really cool. Every once in a while, he brings some cool equipment over for us to check out. Here's a $30,000 video camera he rented for a gig and I got to hold it for a minute on my shoulder - it's 15 pounds. Ugh. Heavy... The day before, he did 13 hours handheld with this monstrosity. I told him that he needed to get the Flip HD, and he said he couldn't charge as much as he does if he showed up with a Flip. It was Christine's birthday, so he got to videotape us singing happy birthday.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Saturday sleepover.

Vince had his first sleepover at the house this past weekend. I left Jeremy in charge because I skipped out and went to hockey. The kids made homemade pizza and watched a movie and then there was a lot of whispering in the dark, but everyone was asleep by 10 pm. In the morning, there was lots of Pokemon talk.

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Jeremy made the super special sleepover breakfast, bacon and pancakes.

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Edda is still getting up regularly at 5:30 am and wants to nap soon after breakfast, most times we can get her to avoid this nap as we want to try and encourage her to sleep past 5:30 am. However, during the super special sleepover breakfast, Jeremy was talking to me about some (extremely exciting, I'm sure) chemistry thing and apparently it was soooo boring, Edda had to fall asleep two minutes into the discussion.

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Monday, October 5, 2009

Weekend haircut.

We trimmed Edda's bangs this weekend. It seems like we do this every 3 weeks - just because we always only take about half an inch off each time, just enough to clear her eyes... Jeremy is much more patient than I am, so he got to control the scissors. I got to hold Edda's arms down so they weren't flailing around and getting into bits of hair.

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Vince trying to do some hairstyling. Edda has the longest hair in the house and so she's the best candidate for braiding and pony-tails.

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Edda tips by giving a Hi-five!

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Mom Made It

This morning at 5:30AM, I sent Mom driving off to her office alone. That hasn't happened for a long while. As a matter of fact, she hasn't driven the car for at least 6 months. I was really concerned her driving alone on this winding mountainous road about 7 miles from the gate to the plant itself. She just called me at her office and that was good.

We will not see each other often for at least 2 weeks and that is not usual too. We use to share one bedroom apartment & adjacent office cubicles, working on the same subject, checking each other work and calculations, driving one car and stick together 24/7/365 all the time.

Mom just can't stop of being a Mom. Our refrigerator is completely full with all her cooking. I guess she is afraid that I will be starving for the next 2 weeks.

Well, I am going to bed again preparing for the first night-shift for at least 35 years.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Capitals hockey.

A friend of mine has season tickets to the Capitals and when her date bailed on her at the last minute, I got to pinch hit (I know, I'm getting all my sports metaphors wrong) and go to the opening game on Saturday night. I do not follow professional sports, generally I find it all a little odd that people spend so much time and energy following wildly well-paid people throw a ball (puck) around. But I'm also a good sport and my friend is insanely excited about hockey and the Caps are coming off an amazing season last year, so I went out and spent $5 on a red T-shirt from Target and booked it to the Verizon center with 18,000 other fans.

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The final score was Caps 6 - Maple Leafs 4. I stood up and cheered enthusiastically for each goal and high-fived people I did not know all around me (which was incredibly painful) and it was a lot of fun. I ate the $9 pizza slice, got the Mike Green bobblehead, I learned about many things including all the cheers (C-A-P-S, Caps!, Caps!, Caps!), the horn guy, and that if the Caps score more than 5 goals in a game, one wins 10 free buffalo wings. Oh yeah, I learned a little bit about hockey too.

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Metro got me there and back and was filled with people with the red jerseys.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Moon Festival (Mid-Autumn Festival)













Tonight, it is the Moon Festival. It is a popular harvest festival celebrated by Chinese people, Japanese people (Tsukimi festival in Japanese), Koreans (Chuseok festival in Korean), and Vietnamese people (even though they celebrate it differently), dating back over 3,000 years to moon worship in China's Shang Dynasty.

Of course, there are moon cakes to celebrate. I have never developed liking of these cakes. Besides, I don't know what's in it. They stuff a lot of different ingredients that no one can really tell. But, a lot of people love them. Some of these cakes carry an astronomical price tags on it - one bite worth a thousand, therefore, can't afford [or, not worth :)] a bite.

Translations from Chinese are:

1) Tonight, you can enjoy reviewing the moon for more than 12 hrs in the whole country (i.e, China)

2) Moon Festival in Chinese

3) Moon Cakes in Chinese

Friday, October 2, 2009

Our 12-Hr Shift Is Coming

Well, I will work on 12 hr night shift from 6:00 PM to 6:00 AM plus turnover with Rena, starting next Monday (10/5) for 2 weeks. Rena will work from 6:00 AM to 6:00PM plus turnover with me. Really funny, it looks like a family outing affair. And exciting? - maybe :)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Happy new fiscal year!

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The federal fiscal year is over. I made it through my two years of being a probationary employee - now I'm a full-fledged federal employee. I passed my certification exam last month and I applied to work from home.

I have mixed feelings about working from home, I love my co-workers, I love going out to lunch with my coworkers, I love going to the on-site gym. I love that I can go up and down the halls and ask "Hey, do you think when they use the word "bonded" that it just means covalent bonds or do you think it includes Van der Waals forces and hydrogen bonding too?" However, I've been eating up sick time and vacation time like crazy from doctor appointments/school appointments and various things, I will be happy to be able to just shift my hours a little bit to actually use vacation time for vacation and to see the kiddos a bit more... Also, I think it will help relax the household a little more, I'll be able to do some more errands during the week, like going to Costo.