Sunday, January 30, 2011

Edda has a cold -

Edda has been battling a cold for the past three or four days. Smeared snot all over everything including us. I think it's cleared up enough that she'll be reporting back to school tomorrow. This is Edda and Denise sharing a nap on the couch last week.

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Catching up.

One of my resolutions this year has been to be off the computer after dinner and on the weekends and although I'm know I'm breaking my resolution now, I've been pretty good at keeping it and I feel like my blogging is suffering a little - it no longer is real time, which I guess is OK.

Anyways, what is real time is that Jeremy staggered into the house at 6:30 this morning after his 8 pm train from NYC pulled into Union Station well past the last Metro. He walked to his office building and got his feet soaking wet, said hello to the security guard at 1:30 am, and slept on the floor behind his desk which was hard and cold. Then as soon as the Metro started running at 5 am, he got on and came home and walked to our house which is about a mile away. He had to backtrack a few blocks because a fallen tree was blocking the entire street.

My parent's plane landed at 3 pm just as the first flakes were falling and Super Shuttled it home, making it to their powerless house at 11pm.

I shoveled the whole driveway by myself this morning which is something I thought I could never do in a single attempt, but it took me only an hour and it made me feel good :)

Here's Edda down in the basement, keeping me company while I plaster another one of the drywall holes in our wall. While I was patching up the hole, I almost drilled through a PVC drain pipe which would have been very ego-bruising and a lot of extra work.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Where in the world is Jeremy? and my parents for that matter...

I'm sitting at home, the kids are in bed, the dogs have been on their evening walk. There is at least 6 inches of snow on the ground and more accumulating every minute. Jeremy decided a 6:30 am this morning that he would indeed attempt to make his one day round-trip-meeting in NYC.

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I told him that he was a little crazy because even though the morning commute was going to be OK, that he needed to be prepared to stay in NYC overnight. So he packed a toothbrush and some undies.

Here he is putting his snow pants over his suit, his plan was to walk to the Metro and then Metro to the Amtrak and walk 8 blocks from Penn Station to his meeting and then do it all in reverse.

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He managed to get on the Amtrak train at 8 pm - I think he's going to pull into DC and then walk to his office and sleep in his suit on the floor. Maybe there will be a couch to sleep on.

And my parents are suppose to be back from Hong Kong today. I wonder where they are.. Hmmm.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Hong Kong -> Home

Rena and I have been in Hong Kong for a long time - almost over a month. Here, we have had a wonderful time together. But, hopefully, we can also get back to our homes soon with no more delay, airplane mechanical problems or else.

Besides, its sky high housing price and cramped space, Hong Kong is indeed a nice place to visit. Public transportation is everywhere, convenient and in-expensive. Food, with world-wide choices, is delicious. But, it remains pretty oriental - live chickens, fish, etc., in local street market, selling meat (cooked or un-cooked) without refrigeration, tea, and more tea with little coke or diet coke, etc.

At the crossing station of Loh Who (?) to China, on the China side, there is a restaurant where excellent food is served. The problem is, its relatively pricey menu coming with a pretty long waiting time to be served - generally, one hour or more. But, to me, it is worth at least once.

Hopefully, every where in mainland China will, one day, develop to be another Singapore, Hong Kong or Taiwan. It probably will take them, at least, another 50 years or more to do so, I believe.

Monday, January 24, 2011

One More Picture from Egypt

Rena in Egypt in front of this great temple built by her Lady King.

Birthday party.

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A. turned 5! We celebrated with her family and had a blast. Everyone dressed up as a princess (well except for the boys) and the adults - ha ha!

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The boys hiding out upstairs :)

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Neurologist....

It is still hard for me to admit to anyone that Edda has seizures - the same way it's hard for me to acknowledge that I'm in my late 30s. The fact that I'm in denial about both of these things does not make these facts any less true.

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We went back to talk to our neuro last Monday - Edda's daytime seizures are pretty much gone, but 4-5 nights a week, she gets a doozy (at least for her) right at 4:30 am when all of us would rather be sleeping. So in conjunction with our neuro, we are upping the dosing of the Keppra just a bit more to see if we can get the nighttime ones under control.

Poor girl has also been constipated this week - way too much talk about poop in this house over the past 3-4 days.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Date day.

With a babysitter and a day off, Jeremy and I celebrated MLK day by working together on a home improvement project that we've been planning on doing for over 2 years. We installed a storm door. We have such awesome date ideas ;).

We were going to pay someone to install the door, but it advertised "oops-proof" installation on the front of the package and promised to replace any part that was miscut for free, so we figured why the hell not...

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It took us only 5 hours to do and I don't think we got frustrated with each other during the whole time.

Hunka-hunka husband with the power tools:

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We have been diligently trying to lower the heating/cooling costs of the house. We've been trying to seal the house better from drafts and I have been slowly removing drywall in the house to discover the lack of insulation in various key locations - so I'm slowing plugging up the drafts with polyurethane goop. I have a 3 - hole rule. No more than three holes are allowed in the drywall anywhere in the house at one time. If I want to cut a fourth hole, I need to patch at least one of the other ones up. I'm pretty good at taking the house apart, and not so good at cleaning up.

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China Today

Rena & I have spent a lot of time here in China. My impression is that, in general, Chinese still think the USA is a much modern, cleaner and less corrupted place to live. They think the USA is still the No. 1 country in the world.

In addition, many ordinary Chinese still can sense us are from outside even though we speak Chinese, wear the same type of clothes as they do. The reason, after I asked several people, is that we are more polite, smiling most of the time, joking and saying "thanks" a lot.

Here in China, in my views, on the positive side:
1) New constructions are everywhere, even in pretty rural areas.
2) People have more money to spend.
3) Their shops and markets are full of all kinds of goods.
4) Cars are everywhere (+ or -?) with fewer beeps.
5) Excellent infrastructure, especially, their schools, highway & rail system.
6) Knowing outside world much better than before.
7) Ordinary people are very proud of their achievements, including the rise of their living standard, the world no. 1 super computer and their new stealth fighter (J20), etc.
8) There are a lot foreigners from African countries and the Muslim world which indicates China has much wider reach in those areas.
9) ...

On the negative side:
a) Smokers are everywhere. They smoke all the time, even in no-smoking areas.
b) People get fatter and fatter, evidently, with less exercise and more food.
c) Not lining up for anything. Some place with no line at all.
d) Ignoring EPA laws, even openly selling some supposedly protected animals for food.
e) Not paying attention to details. In their pretty modern bathrooms, one can always find some crappy things there. There are small but annoying. Evidently, housing inspection & other inspections depends on those paper with Chairman Mao on it (ie, $$$) a lot. In Quang Zhou city, there are still some temporarily steel structures to beef up over pass highway. One can get scare by looking at them.
f) Corruption is everywhere. Ordinary people hate it but can't do anything about it.
g) Housing is more expensive than those in the USA.
h) People are under tremendous pressure to get more money to support their higher living standard and/or to match others.
i) ...

In all, Rena & I, as Chinese Americans, are also very happy to see their advancement. Even though, many tough problems and new challenges have faced Chinese citizens all the time.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Our new van.

Edda's good appetite and growth has been a blessing, we have not had to struggle very much with one of the hallmarks of Rett Syndrome, poor growth. She is fast approaching 60 pounds this year and this is the first year that I've noticed that I'm really having trouble lifting her in the car, up the stairs and out of the bath. Finally, after years of thinking about it, we finally have a minivan in the family with a mobility seat installed.

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Monday, January 17, 2011

Welcome Denise!

Denise, our new au pair from Switzerland, arrived here this weekend. Today was her first working day and it was a doozy because the kids did not have school today!

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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Happy birthday Ruby!

You are 10 and always putting Maxi in her place! Happy birthday ;)

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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Lien Jian (Connecting River), Quang Dong, China


























































Mom and I joined a Hong Kong tour group to this new, lesser known, tour route. It lasted for 3 days at ~US$100.00 each. The food and hotels were excellent. Our hotels had free, 6 hours unlimited long distance call inside China and, of course, free Internet. The only problems were the heater didn't work and it was unprecedented cold at this latitude together with smokers almost everywhere. They were unstoppable.

Pictures to share:

1) Chinese rural high rise highway system.
2) with Miao minority youth.
3) rural high school - just couldn't believe it was housed in this modern building.
4) stone pots - too bad, can't take one back home.
5) Mom & I, in front of a stone with this Chinese character (ie., pre-destinated relationship?) on it. How true it was and still is.
6) dried meat for human consumption - far left were several field rats and a dried parier dog?
7) two modern buildings among many old ones. Our blue tour bus on its side.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Macao (A Special Admin Zone), Quang Dong, China












































Today (1/14/2011, Friday), Mom & I just came back from a 3-day tour to the west side of Quang Dong Province. Pretty interesting, old and new structures coexist in odd settings. But, most people remain what they were before. It probably will take them another generation or two to catch up the modern world. But, surprising, it seems to me that people from Hong Kong are always in a hurry that they seldom yield walkway or seat for seniors :) People in China and Taiwan are doing better in this respect.

Last Monday (1/10/2011), we took a day trip to Macao, China - the Gambling Capital of the World. What we have in Las Vegas, Macao has them also, but much cleaner. It is a very clean place, I think it is cleaner than Hong Kong. The ferry boat was fast but I thought it was quite expensive (~US$20.00 one way). One the way out, it had senior fair. But, when coming back, there was no senior rate available. Couldn't quite figure out why?

Anyway, there are several pictures to share.

1) The front end of a Portuguese church, built ~400 years ago and it survived after three big fires.
2) Mom in front of a slot machine, quite enjoying herself.
3) & 4) Inside casinos.
5) Macao skyline.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Chinese motherhood!

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I was with a hilarious, enthused and happy Edda at Occupational Therapy yesterday - happy that she was happy at swinging, knocking wind chimes and spinners with her hands when Deb, our OT asked me if I had read Amy Chua's excerpt from her new book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. It makes for interesting reading about the "Chinese" approach to parenting, basically yelling at your kids for not being the best at academics and piano and/or violin. Of course, my parents were not this extreme, and I'm really way, way not like this - I am your standard Western coddling mother in which I say "Good job!" to everything my children do because they are already brilliant and perfectly behaved in all situations (except when you need to use a fork, because neither child really knows how to use a fork).

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Waiting for the bus.

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I'm sitting on the stairs waiting for Edda's bus. The kids have a 2 hour delay this morning because of the 1.5 inches of snow that fell last night. We have a case of the grumps this morning - Ruby puked up a pencil (she's relearning her puppy antics from Maxi, it has been YEARS since she's chewed anything), Maxi may have peed on top of the puke, Maxi chewed up my Xmas slippers right in front of Vince who did nothing to stop it (I count him as an accomplice), Edda spit up her seizure meds, Jeremy shoveled the walk and changed out the car's snow tires. And I tried to work through all this chaos.

Here's a pic of Maxi pooping in the snow and the subsequent poop bags.

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

King's cake.

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Vince, at the urging of his grandfather, insisted that the Christmas tree not be taken down until the Three King's Day - which is something I kind of sort of had heard of before and when I researched it, I started understanding the connection of the Twelve Days of Christmas, Twelfth Night, etc. etc. I know, I know, I'm a little religiously-impaired, but I'm making up for it now.

Anyways, Three King's Day, or Epiphany (which is a name that I love) marks the beginning of Carnival season and to celebrate, I make a King's Cake in which I hid a baby Jesus. (OK, it wasn't really baby Jesus, it was a quarter, but next year, it will be a baby Jesus when I have a little more prep time). If you get the slice with the baby Jesus, you will be king for a day! Unfortunately, I made the cake out of bread flour instead of all-purpose, so it turned out a little chewer than expected, but I'll fix it for next year.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Wrapping paper.

I went a little crazy this Christmas and bought myself a bulk roll of silver wrapping paper. I did not realize it would be very heavy. I did not realize that it would be made even heavier by my husband making me a wooden silver wrapping paper dispenser with a scotch tape dispenser screwed into the base (so you never have to go looking for the tape!). I am questioning if this was a wise move because I think I'm saving money per square foot of wrapping paper, but now it no longer fits into any sort of reasonable size storage area. I am hoping to never buy wrapping paper again.

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QuangZhou, China


Last Friday, we took the CRH (China Railway Harmony at 250 miles/hr, but not high speed train) train from Hong Kong to QuangZhou, China where Rena spent 6 months as senior consultant there. The city just finished hosting Asian Games. Its dramatic transformation is everywhere.

The company where Rena worked was relocated to an ultra modern Technology & Industry Park on the east side of the city. Its more expensive cafe (about US$7.00 each) is comparable to those of 5 star cruise ships.

Saturday, Rena and I spent the whole day with some young engineers to answer their questions. Saturday night, we had a dinner with Rena's former colleagues. They are much younger than we are. We had a wonderful time there.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Maxine.

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Waiting to see if Maxine has a UTI. Turns out she doesn't.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Land's End.

I do most of my non-grocery shopping online. I just find it less frustrating, more time efficient and a great way to comparison shop. For most of our clothing and household textiles, from underwear to business suits - backpacks to towels, we shop the overstock pile at Land's End. Because I'm always buying stuff on sale, none of the sheets match each other and Jeremy owns ten pairs of white boxer shorts with a totally hilarious ant print on them. We also tend to buy swimsuits in January and snowpants in June. Most of the time, the kids don't even register that I've exchanged out old, worn, too small clothes with new ones, but the last shipment they saw these great fuzzy sweatshirts and both the kids loved and put them on right away and rolled around the floor with them on! They are both getting so big, I can almost wear the sweatshirts myself, the sleeves are just a few inches too short!

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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Library!

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Happy 80th Birthday to Big Brother































I don't like to celebrate my birthday in public. I prefer to have a quieter dinner among immediate family members. Since I am from the Orient and there are certain things that I wouldn't, shouldn't and can't escape. Therefore, Rena and I, are very happy to attend Rena big brother's birthday party in Hong Kong. The party was restricted to his family members, long time friends and, 2/3 of them were his company's managers from mainland China. The total is 146 which, in Chinese pronunciation, means happy (6) all the way (14). Big brother was very happy about this coincident number.

In the party, it had all the stuffs that party had, such as music, professional announcer, two photographers, fine wines, many prizes (grand prize is a red envelop of ~ US450.00) and, regrettably, the shark fin soup. All these managers were on a 4-day Hong Kong tour paid by big brother's Company, including their regular salary and time spent to get their Hong Kong visa. It was really enjoying your guided tour while getting paid.

Here, there are three pictures to share:

1) Rena and I dressed up in the party
2) Big Brother & sister with their sons and daughters
3) Rena on a big brother Company's tour.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Projects around the house.

Vince got to learn about spray paint while home on school break.

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Monday, January 3, 2011

Military Bowl.

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I got the chance to go to the Military Bowl at RFK stadium last week with a friend of mine who wanted some company sitting in the cold. I have never gone to a football game besides high school ones I went to over 20 years ago and my college was not known as a football powerhouse, so I missed out on being a fanatic fan of anything. I am actually so lame that I thought the Redskins were still playing at RFK, but apparently they moved to FedEx field over a decade ago.

The Military Bowl featured the match up of the Maryland Terps against the East Carolina Pirates and, honestly, I had never heard about East Carolina University before the game, but apparently they have enough people who have heard about them that a good number of them showed up to color to opposite side of RFK purple.

They had a very impressive pirate head which billowed purple smoke.

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And after two weeks of bitter cold winds and temperatures, it was a surprisingly pleasant day and I throughly enjoyed the company and brushed up on my football rules and had nachos for lunch!

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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to work we go!

Back to work and school tomorrow! No more goofing off, no more gaining weight! No more volcano rolls from the conveyor belt sushi place!

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Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy new year!

Edda spent the whole first day of the new year in her pajamas. Who's fault was that? Now she can go straight to bed with no fuss or muss! We should all spend our days in pajamas drinking hot cocoa.

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Vince had a sleepover last night - lots of Wii games, popcorn, and fart jokes. I have no idea how long they slept. They were awake when I went to sleep and awake when I woke up. It is 6:30 pm now and he is OUT for the night.

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New year's resolutions:

SPEND LESS TIME ON THE INTERNET.

Kouign-amann, pancake practice, bacon.

Ohhhh, I love these Kouign-amann.  It's like a croissant covered in a crunchy sugar coating. I'm eating poorly these days, snackin...