Friday, September 30, 2011

Washington DC, the Best City to Raise Kids

The other days, I just learned that Washington DC was voted to be the best city to raise kids. I guess I need to ask Doris & Donald then :)

Here in China, we have this big National Holidays (Oct. 1 - Oct. 7) coming up. Too bad, I have to work all these days because our data center is moving from Houston to Shanghai. Not only that, I probably need to work on wee hours. But, hopefully not. Gladly, my English class for locals are going to be over soon. Next year, probably, I wouldn't like to sign up for it.

Hopefully, this Thanksgiving time, Donald will be able to travel toward west (Hawaii, Japan, Korea ??) so we can have a mini-family re-union there. If with two, then we will leave them alone :) Of course, next time, Mom think that our family re-union is much better on a cruise ship. May be Alaska Cruise. Not sure yet.

The weather is getting cold here. This place is great for summer - nice and cool. Winter, hopefully, will be moderate also. A lot of people told me that up north, just across mountains, there will be a lot of snow, but not here.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Shana Tova

Happy Rosh Hashanah to everyone!  I love new year celebrations - a sense of renewal and starting again.  Vince and Edda were lucky enough to have the day off of school - why MCPS celebrates Jewish holidays and none other is always a bit perplexing (I always want to have Chinese New Year off - I think the number of Jewish folks and the number of Chinese folks in the public schools are relatively comparable).  As we were not going to new year services today, I was clever enough to schedule the kid's flu shots for this morning - more than a month in advance.  I love to pat myself on the back for small successes that show off my scheduling prowess, I'm not good at very much, but I love to keep the household well scheduled.

When I made the appointment, they mentioned that they were out of the flu-Mist vaccine, the one that is sprayed up your nose like a backwards sneeze.  So I could not confirm Vince's anxious question - am I going to get the shot, or can I get the nose one?  So he was on pins and needles the whole ride over.  Edda, on the other hand, doesn't really give a rat's ass about shots.  Also, I'm not sure how I would tell her to suck up the nose medicine into her sinuses.   Anyways, they had the Mist in stock (thank goodness) - Vince was able to get his up the nose and hilarity at the doctor's office ensued.



Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Mom Has Been Away for 2 Days

Well, Mom has been away for 2 days. First day, I ate one of her dishes stored in our refrigerator. The second day, I was invited to a dinner hosted by one of my colleagues from Shanghai. Tonight, I need to teach English (boys, mine is just so-so) to locals. Tonight, my teaching subject is, this year, Ms. Tu YouYou (81) received the prestigious US Lasker award for discovering a Chinese traditional medicines - sweet wornwood shrub, to eradicate malaria in Africa. The program of using this medicine on the small island of Moheli, off Africa, has proven a huge success.

Well, for day 3, I am going to have more of Mom's stuff inside my refrigerator.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Life at Haiyang, Shandong, China

Pictures to share:

1) Mom caught a big Jelly Fish. Of course, it ended up in our dinner table.
2) Mom on a beach in front of our expat village along the Yellow Sea. The stick is, just in case, to chase away a lot of guard dogs probably with rabbit but no rabbit shot. Those guard dogs are used for guarding numerous fish ponds behind the beach.
3) My expat village apartments. Mine is about (~1,200 ft*ft, with two bedrooms & two full baths, and solar-powered water heaters are on top) which is on the second floor, first row closed to the gate, on the very right. This gate is guarded 24 hours a day. The guard house to on this side of the gate (not shown). Mom needs to have a pass to get in. But, she has a lot of friends at the gate. She, from time to time, gave away some chocolate candies to them.
4) Our door and kitchen facing the opposite side of the gate.
5) Our living room windows facing the Yellow Sea and the gate. Guard house is at the left.

Well, Mom is heading for Shanghai today. She probably will not be back for a month. But, she left a lot of cooked food in the refrigerator :)

ltyl and stay tune ...

Girl Power 2 Cure gala!

Friday night, Girl Power 2 Cure hosted their first Gala ever in Georgetown to fund research for Rett Syndrome.  It was a lot of work for everyone and it was a lot of fun!  The Martin clan showed up and led the dancing - we ended up having at least 40 people on the dance floor.  We also had the chance to invite Edda's team from her school to join us and it was really very meaningful to us to have them there for the evening.


I didn't take a lot of photos, there was a professional photographer there who captured the evening beautifully if you'd like to see more photos -

Here is Vince enjoying his Georgetown cupcake from the Gala first thing the next morning.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Vince feeding Edda.


Last night was Vince's back to school night. After years of ignoring his schoolwork - we are buckling down and trying to make a good go of it all. School is so hard for a 4th grader - I think he easily does an hour and a half of homework each night. He is rapidly making progress on all the math I know in the world, luckily, I still have a handle on 4th grade math, but in 5 years when I have to help with 10th grade math (ha ha!), I'm not too sure.

I AM IN ...

Finally, I found a way to get in to our family blog. Very good. I can share several pictures we have during the weekend.

Mom is ready to leave for Shanghai, Chong Ming Island and Taiwan. These days, she has cooked a lot of food for me to have while she is gone. Too bad, our refrigerator is much smaller than the one we have back home.

She and I are having allergic reactions to our place here in Shandong, China. I guess this is an agricultural area with a lot of chemicals around. Just like at Richland, WA, USA. Mom almost takes a walk along the beach of Yellow Sea every morning.

Btw, I just heard that Chinese Government to tax us (expats) more, as much as 11%, for joining their social security and health programs. I believe I have never had a chance to use them anyway, but it is mandatory.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Seizure cat.


Edda's seizures are coming back. Slowly but surely. I need to call the neurologist. I don't want to call him, I just want them to go away by themselves. Such is my life. Living in my world involves some denial. I think that is OK. I'd like to have a cat, but I really can not take care of one more thing right now - even though I know cats almost just take care of themselves. I found this lovey cat outside our garage the other day - paused enough for a little pet.

Look at these beautiful photos taken with a large DSLR camera. Can't compare to an iPhone. "Rage, rage against the dying of the light" - I'm raging against the inevitability of owing a phone with my camera in it. That day will come.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Scene from Sunday night dinner

There was takeout Chinese food that Edda refused!  She never refuses Chinese food.  Strange girl!


Here's Christine and Jane.  Can you believe Jane is going to be a driver ON THE SAME ROAD AS YOU AND ME in less than 1.5 years.


And, of course, Maxi, enjoying the dinner leftovers.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

The devil dog

Maxi has been a thorn in my side.  I do not know how we ended up with such a naughty dog, but somehow she is the most trouble of all my children.   She eats everything (toys, food, plants), she sniffs your butt when you walk into the house, she barks at everything!  She is cute though - although it doesn't make up for much.


Jeremy is home again, finally, after another long week of travel.  This time he went to Minnesota -  it's really not the same in the house without him.  

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My birthday!

Today I am 39. I wish I could get into the habit again of taking photos everyday. This decade-long hobby of picture taking and blogging is somehow at risk. I have been thinking that I need to get a different camera, a smaller one, maybe one I could put in my pocket - like an iPhone and give up on my DSLR. But then I get all upset at the lame picture quality berate myself for not taking photos everyday with the camera that I have.

All I have for today is a picture that is over 2 weeks old! I feel undocumented.


Monday, September 12, 2011


Here's Andy of Erasure - saw them on Tuesday night with my pals at the 9:30 club. He's looking good!


Friday, September 9, 2011

We are having a good case of the grumps around here.  Jeremy and I were talking about it last night and he mentioned that the week between our birthdays (the 7th for him, the 14th for me) has always been a bad week for us.  It kind of coincides with the start of the school year, our anniversary, our birthdays, the end of the fiscal year for both of our jobs and - this year in particular - Jeremy is traveling a lot.  I joke a lot that Jeremy's work travel is his "vacation" because he gets to go to cool places with cool people, but I know that he works a lot on these business trips and they can be very draining on him.  I also know that he misses us and tries to not be away from home more than he needs to be.

Anyways, I mercilessly teased him for MONTHS when I found out he was going to a business trip in Monterey, CA and have a catered dinner in the aquarium! Really, what could be more fabulous than that? Not much really. OK, well maybe being in Monterey with us. Without the work :)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Labor day party.

In my Sociology 101 class, we've been learning about the capitalist and the worker classes.  Marx, Weber, and Durkheim - the three classical sociologists.  Usually I think I'm surrounded by natural scientists who know nothing about the social sciences, but I've had conversations with a bunch of people in the last week who have basically fallen over themselves all excited to tell me about the three dead white guys who started the field of sociology.

In the spirit of honoring the worker class, we went out to my friend Andy's annual Labor Day party.  He is a wonderful man with a knack for the wacky and fun.  In the backyard, he has a pool and trampoline.  Sound pretty OK so far, right?  But wait!  He also has a cotton candy machine, 2 machines cranking out 5 flavors of slushies and 3 working pinball machines.  He is an ebay scounger, craigslist follower and master tinkerer trying to fix all these machines that he finds for bargain basement prices.


Vince ran around and tried all the flavors of slushie and the cotton candy. Edda was a little underwhelmed as you can tell from this photo!


Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Edda falls asleep in the most unlikely of places.

Edda's school year has started and it is always nice to see her enjoying her friends and teachers at school.  I just finished reading a memoir called Keeping Katherine.  The author has a daughter who has Rett Syndrome (who is now in her 30s) and I really enjoyed reading it.   Some of the feelings that she expresses are spot on with what I felt or what I feel - other very strong feelings that she had did not apply to me at all. I've known about this book for a long time, but I did not read it until now because I didn't not think I was ready yet. My own feelings about Edda and her disability are always such a jumble - acceptance, grief, hope, action and, of course, love - it's very difficult for me to put into words.

In the photo of Edda above, you will notice she's wearing a silver necklace.  It is the guanine base pair, the one that she is missing (806delG).  Guanine pairs with cytosine in the DNA strand - so I always wear my cytosine necklace.  

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Althea and John's anniversary -

We headed out for a nice 15th anniversary party for some friends of ours, it was a really lovely evening and we got to play some games, eat good food and meet some new people.

Vince busted out his gogos,  which he tried to patiently explain to some adults at the party.  Nigel, his pal, contributed Transformers. 


Jeremy met a woman who works in the same building as he does, just 2 floors down. Jeremy's building is not very big, one figures that you'd get to know a lot of the people in the building! Apparently, they have not noticed each other in the many years that they have been sharing an elevator.


Friday, September 2, 2011

First week of school, done!

The first week of school for everyone (including me) is done!  Hooray!  But, of course, my blogging is a few weeks behind - here is a photo of all of us at a beach near Portland a few weeks ago.  Trying to capture the last bit of summer before Jeremy gets home from his business trip this week; because he's been gone for a week, I haven't counted this week as "getting back into our routine".  That's for next week!