Saturday, November 30, 2013

Lee family movie night. The night we ditch the Martins.


Donald and I took our parents (that's them in the matching red hats - not looking at the camera) out to see Gravity.  Don's a good sport, he's seen the movie twice already before - but you know, it's hard to find a movie that I know my parents will really like.  If the plot is too complicated and there are too many similar-looking characters, then they get all confused and just fall asleep. This evening, we introduced my parents to the wonders of the modern world: an unmanned movie ticket kiosk, 3-D glasses, stadium seating, why college kids spend $200 on a pair of jeans and finally, what exactly is Pride Week in San Francisco.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Going outside.


We try and spend a little time outside whenever it's the weekend or a holiday.  It's not always easy, especially when it's cold outside and people are sick (Jeremy) or like to nap (me and Edda).  (Where's Vince?  With his friends.  Somewhere - we don't really know a lot of the time.  It's a new world, where you don't exactly know every minute of the day where your child is.  I mean, we know where he is theoretically.  We just don't know know.)  I really just wanted to read all day and doze and eat leftover turkey.  But it's true that if we spend too much time in the house, we all get a little snippy at each other.  So where to go when it's cold and we are all a little worn out?  Just 20 feet outside into the backyard. 


We planted about half of the 90 daffodil bulbs.  I'm excited to see them from my office window in the spring.  Edda's happy to be outside in the picture below - her smile is a little grimace-y. 



A bunch of my mom-friends (who I've known for about 5 years or so) are so fascinated when I tell them that when Jeremy and I met in 1994, he had seven earrings and a shaved head.  They can't even imagine him like that, he's a pretty regular looking middle-aged white guy these days.  Buys his clothes from Land's End and testifies in front of Congress in suits.  It's been so hard to find photos of Jeremy in the early 90s which show off the earrings.  So finally, Kiki brought this photo from 1994, only a few months before we met.  So here it is - so young!  So young - I can't believe how long ago this was.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013.


Late Wed afternoon, after the rental tables/chairs/plates had been delivered, set up and decorated with paper accordion turkeys, Jeremy came upstairs and lay down in bed.  He looked at me and said that he was finally admitting to himself that he was getting sick.  I panicked a little.  Thirty people were coming to the house and I don't really know how to cook anything (fish sticks and spaghetti are my specialties).  Jeremy assured me that he was going to feel better - he took a  Motrin and we both went to bed at 8:15.  At 7 am, Jeremy was still in bed feeling lousy - I looked at the turkeys with a sinking feeling in my stomach.  I had to call in back-up - my mom for the ham, and Eric to come to the house early and cook the turkeys for me.  Almost everything else, people brought, so Thanksgiving - food wise - was fantastic without any of the guests noticing that anything was amiss.

So Jeremy was sick and Edda was pissed.  During the early afternoon, as the guests were arriving, Edda was stomping around the room yelling her head off and crying a little bit.  So then I had to retreat upstairs with Edda to her room, so she could have some space to herself.  So we hosted Thanksgiving for 30 people where for a certain non-insubstantial stretch of time, there were no hosts actually present at the party.  I think it might have been a first for us, but with 27 people downstairs, we could leave them to their own devices I suppose.

Other than that, it was a lovely evening, we skyped with the Swedish branch of the family - here's Ben and Felix.


And our crazy re-arranged house and the food!  So much food!



@ Midnight, Mom -> Airport to Pickup Donald

Yesterday, Mom went with me to the airport to pickup Donald @midnight around 12:20 PM.  Usually, 99 out of 100, Mom would not like to venture out after 10:00 PM.  And knowing her sleeping habits as well as today's (Thanksgiving) busy schedules, I would not like her to do so either.

But, of course for her, Doris & Donald are exceptions.  After picking him up and arriving home around 01:30 AM, I went to bed right away.   Of course, that late at night, Donald didn't accept Mom's offer to cook something for him.  But, they kept talking to each other pretty long.  That was another unusual too.

This morning, I woke up for a while and they are still sleeping.  And I guess, next Monday very early morning, Mom will certainly take Donald back to the airport again when he is leaving for SF.  That would be the third "very unusual" in a row.

I am sure all the Mom in the world act the same - tiger Mom or not, doesn't matter too much.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

We Have Visitor(s) or Roommate(s)?

Last night, while watching TV, we noticed some funny sound from the ceiling.  It has been on-and-off for a while.  I decided to go up to the attic and had a look.  When I was there,  in addition to the attic light, a small hand-held spot light was used, I saw a cute Raccoon stared at me.  He (she) eyes were pretty shiny.  It is really chunky - may be pregnant?  After I used sticks to choose him, he hided into a hole.  Afterward, I sealed that hole with steel wires as a temporarily fix.

For long term fix, I will be a ad hoc trapper.  I have ordered a raccoon trap and it will arrive by Friday.  I also bought some marshmallows and a tuna fish can.  Those marshmallows will be put into the can which being tied to the raccoon trap far back bottom.  And hopefully, I will trap some raccoon(s) soon.

Stay tune :)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Let the wild rumpus begin!


Last night, Vince asked to be woken up at 6 am this morning in order to be at school at 7:10 am to check out some in-demand books at the library (really?  there's a run on a particular title in middle school?  this isn't some sort of justin beiber concert ticket scenario).  This is a full 45 minutes earlier than he usually shows up to school.  So this morning, I dutifully go in at 6 am and shake him awake.  He takes one one-sleepy-eyed look at me and says that he's going to abandon his ambitious early plan in favor of further cultivating his impressive-looking bed head.


The thanksgiving festivities have started - Kiki showed up late this afternoon as our first house guest.  I love that it feels like a Friday and it's only Tuesday! In her honor (really, in my last minute haste), we ordered pizza which Edda loved - Edda loves all the foods.  As I'm still having difficulty recognizing my own husband after the removal of all his facial hair, I asked Kiki if she still recognized her own son.  She said that he looks just like he did in high school, just with less hair.  Well. Thank goodness someone recognizes Jeremy.



I have managed to somehow subconsciously or unconsciously sprain my ankle.  Can you tell which one? Oh, I think it's a pretty mild sprain but looking at the picture now I think it's pretty clear you can tell it's my right ankle.  I ran entirely too much last week.  Chalk it up to unabashed exuberance and totally stupidity.  And I could tell that I wore myself out on my run on Monday because it felt like I was dragging a small, whiny toddler behind me the whole way.  But I finished my run on Monday just fine (all steps sure-footed) and went home telling myself that I needed a couple of days off to just rest - but all my parts felt just fine.  So today - no running, no nothing - just eating (well, there was also working, but that's not as much fun as eating).  But by 4 pm, there was no denying that the inside of my right ankle was swollen and tender.  Did I screw it up on the last run?  Did I trip over some loose gravel in the driveway this morning?  I have no idea. Now my brother is going to totally kick my ass in the Turkey Burnoff on Saturday.  Crap.


Monday, November 25, 2013

Ruby's in the bed.


Ruby has taken to sleeping with us on our bed at night.  Her old joints are no longer very comfortable for her to rest on on our cheap non-Temperpedic-foam dog beds.  As it turns out, there is not enough room on the king-sized bed for the three of us - mainly because Ruby really stretches out length-wise or on the diagonal and there is no way to move her or ask her to scoot over another 2 inches.  Last night, it meant that I had to decamp to Edda's bed.  I know it seems illogical that I'm more comfortable sharing a twin-sized bed with Edda that a king-sized bed with Jeremy and Ruby, but that's just the way I am.  

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Who is this man?


Jeremy shaved his goatee today. I don't recognize him. If he passed me at the mall or at the airport, I would not give him a 2nd look.  I can't stop staring at his face!  The general consensus is that he looks younger without the facial hair.

Saturday, November 23, 2013



Vince made his own biscuits today.  He has some leftover chicken pot pie from my mom's birthday party - he had eaten all the biscuits that were on top when the dish came to the table, but there was a good deal of the pot pie innards left and he wanted to have biscuits with them.  So a little measuring, a little kneading and voila! yummy biscuits.  The following photo may or may not have been a reenactment.  I try to discourage reenactments in my photos, but sometimes my preferences are not adhered to.


The final product:



I'm excited about Thanksgiving - we  are hosting this year - so far the count is 35 people.  We've rented extra tables, chairs and plates.  Two turkeys are going to be delivered by our milkman on Tuesday.  We will even have an extra visiting dog (we thought we'd have 2 extra dogs, but alas, one of the dogs is not allowed on Amtrak). And I get to hang out with my little brother for a few days!  So excited to talk to him about his latest dating adventures.  I'm so happy that I got married before the internet was invented (not exactly true, but almost true) - it all seems so much more complicated now; he tells me about all the latest dating apps where you can trade and rate prospective dates among your Facebook pals and you have 24 hours to decide whether or not you want to go out on a date.

In our last conversation, we discussed how young of a woman he could date without being it being totally gross.  Of course, there is the standard equation - "half your age + 7" - which would be 25.5 for Donald.  I guess lately he's been set up with 23 year-olds which Donald reports is really, really weird (I think for both parties).

He's also suppose to install this new-fangled thermostat in the house which you can control via the web and will learn over time your heating/cooling preferences - it's suppose to save us $.  I'm not sure I believe it, but it looks really slick.  He gave it to me for my birthday - so that was months ago - it's still sitting shrink-wrapped on my desk awaiting deployment.

Thursday, November 21, 2013



Celebrated my mom's 72nd birthday at our go-to celebration place, Founding Farmers.  I'm so please that, for at least 6 months out of the year, I live so close to my parents that we can celebrate together like this. 


We ordered way too much food and drink.  Lots of it is now sitting in the fridge waiting to become my lunch - I love leftovers.


Happy Birthday, Mom

Happy Birthday, Mom

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Plumbing Work in Our Basement for the Bathroom of the Master Bedroom

Above pictures are the plumbing work in our basement.  After pulling concrete with meshed wires back on, I will start to work on framing part, electrical work, ducts as well as those hot & cold water pipes.  Hopefully, the master bedroom with a private bath will be ready for next Winter.

Reading together.


Vince is reading The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle for English class (his edition has a picture of a wind-swept girl looking wistfully off into the distance on the front cover which I don't think makes it very inspiring for middle-school-aged boys to read the book). We've taken to reading the books he's been assigned with him to help out with the tricky words and to work through some sentences he may not understand, he's not the quickest reader and he has a touch of dyslexia - same as Jeremy.   I did this for him for his previous book - Tuck Everlasting.  Jeremy's taken over for this book.  He's a little behind on the reading (isn't everyone always behind on the reading?) so this photo was taken at 9:45 pm, far past his regular bedtime.


Girls make the best engineers.  After a lifetime of being in male-dominated classrooms, it's quite an experience to be in nursing school. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Fitting it all in.


Someday I will tire of using these photo filters on flickr, but right now they amuse me.  It's been beautiful these past few days - especially Monday when the temps flirted with the 70s.  Ruby certainly enjoyed her mid-day walk.

I went to a few study sessions at school today - normally I skip these in favor of doing my regular job which - you know - pays my mortgage, but there is an exam tomorrow which I needed some insight on, so I went to the study sessions and now I'm skipping class to get back to work in a few minutes. 

I am trying to juggle a lot of things and when I actually say them all aloud to interested parties, it seems really crazy - but I'll let you in on my secret - I've really lowered my standards.  So I'm not doing as well as I'd like in school, nor am I meeting my usual production levels at work, nor am I micromanaging my children's social and academic life and the laundry is never folded (although it might never have been folded promptly even when I was doing much less) and so everything is a little at loose ends. 

I'm really looking forward to Dec 15 when the semester is over and I'll get 3-4 weeks of downtime. 


Look at this handwriting!  So beautiful.  I'm a little jealous.


Our House - Egress Window, Basement Bath Rough-In, Persimmon Tree & Magnolia Winter Coat

The egress window just passed county inspection and was done (picture 1).  

The basement master bedroom rough-in is on going.  The contractor just cut the floor yesterday (picture 2).   Toilet is in front of the post on the left.  Tub is at the back side.  Shower is on the right and the vanity is in between the tub and shower place.

Picture 3 shows our persimmon tree with fruits on it.  Mom took about 14 of them to her Mahjon (a Chinese game) friends.  The rest, I insist not to be harvested.  It is pretty as it is during the winter time.

The last picture show the ad hoc winter coat for our front yard magnolia tree.  It made of several tree leave bags from our neighbors and plenty of leave in the middle.  It will keep it a bit warmer when weather gets cold. Last year, it made of special fences.  And two years ago, it was with dry hay all around it.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Back to Singapore.


We've been meaning to take the kids to Penang in Bethesda because it has all the dishes we loved to eat when we were living in Singapore.  When I ask Vince about his memories of Singapore, it's clear he still has a bunch, but many things he can't remember anymore.  It's hard to remember things that happened to you when you were 3 or 4 years old. 


We went to Penang to celebrate Vince being on the honor roll this past quarter.  It's been a hard first quarter of middle school for him - the amount of schoolwork that he needs to do has really been overwhelming and it takes up a lot of his time.  There have been tears and less time with his pals just goofing around. 


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Things to look for in a husband.


Jeremy's cousin-in-law Christine has three pieces of advice for all the single ladies looking for a husband.  Rule #1 is that he be driven (although I think driven is too strong of a word, I think maybe responsible or willing to step-up is better) meaning that he doesn't just sit on the couch eating potato chips while you are working really hard trying to keep it all together.  Rule #2 is that he treat you like a queen <- this is a good rule.  The third rule is a little off-color so not really appropriate for a family-friendly blog, but if you ask me in person, I might tell it to you.  I think Christine is pretty much spot-on, but I really like my own 4th rule: make sure your husband is really good at IT - because a household really only runs as well as it's access to the internet.

This weekend Jeremy spent the weekend maintaining and upgrading our computer systems.  He enjoys it so much that not only does he do all the stuffs here at home, but he's also pretty much taken over the IT department at his work.  The photo above shows that he's working on taking care of 4-5 computers, 2 of which don't even belong to us because our neighbors have figured out that he's willing to spend a Saturday futzing around with Windows 8.

A lot of computer maintenance is waiting around for things to load or restart, so even though a lot of it took all day, not much of it was active time.  Both of us are swamped at work, Jeremy just has a lot of projects going on and is spending weekends working (which is very rare for him, he's not one to work more than 40 hours) and I'm behind at work because nursing school is taking waaayyy more time than I thought it would, so we both worked a lot of the day on Saturday.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

I love science, even when it doesn't go my way.

Out of the handful of Rett Syndrome charities out there, I like RSRT the best simply because their financials are pretty transparent and they spend the overwheming bulk of their money on medical research. So I feel like when I ask my friends to donate their $ on behalf of Edda, that their money is going straight to a lab full of pipettes and test tubes and Sharpies and DNA polymerase - all things I like and am familiar with.

RSRT recently put together this video for one of their largest fundraisers. It mentions that all Rett girls are smart and clever and trapped in their uncooperative bodies. That they all have something to say and we need to find a cure in order to release them.

I think that the gene mutation for Rett Syndrome impairs a fundamental function in all  of the neurons in Edda's brain - that her cognition (her "smartness" or her "cleverness") is actually very low.  It's not to say that she should not be a valued member of the community - that she is not worthy of our love, attention or committment as a society.  It does not mean that she is any less than the rest of us.  Frankly, if if was so important to be smart or clever, I think most of us would be standing on the wrong side of the line of the ground because aren't we just all bumbling around making mistakes and doing stupid and silly things all the time?  (Well, maybe just me.)

And I sometimes think that I'm the only Rett parent who is relieved and hopes that Edda doesn't understand how much she's missing out on - that she's happy with her very limited and circumscribed life and not pining for all the things that she's missing out on - true, deep friendships full of secrets and and gossip - running through a field in the bright, fall sun chasing golden leaves - finding a secret hiding place on her own where she can read a book for hours at a time with a bag of M&Ms - and dancing and dancing - and taking a biology class with a really great teacher, like so many great science teachers I've had, and learning about evolution and gene mutation and meiosis where the whole trouble with the missing guanine began!

Friday, November 15, 2013


Nothing like after a long day at work to go to my parents house for a great home cooked meal (delicious!) and a 45 minute lively discussion on Obamacare. Oh how my dad enjoys nothing better than to engage Jeremy in a head-to-head discussion while I cringe and go looking for some ice cream. Tonight was better than usual - they agreed on some points - and everyone stayed in a good mood.  Maybe it was because the pork was so yummy.



Look at Jeremy's awesome sweater.  Brooks Brothers!  8 dollars from the thrift shop.  Poppin' tags!  Jeremy thought it was a little loud for everyday wear.



This is a day for outfits - out of my usual tee shirt and chinos into a dress and heels.  Inspired Vince enough (he was home sick today) to take a quick photo.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Banner day!


This was a banner day for getting stuff done before 8:30 am.  I'm still struggling with insomnia - I've cleared out a lot of what I think was causing it, but still I wake with a start at 3 or 4 am everyday and then it's hard to go back to sleep.  I don't seem tired during the day, so maybe now I only need 6 hours of sleep everyday.   Since I'm up, I usually take Edda duty, which after 7 or 8 years of alternating nights tending to her, Jeremy is luxuriating in a long string of sleeping through the night which he greatly appreciates.

So at 4 am, I'm with Edda in her bed and she launches into her triweekly (once every three weeks or so - not three times a week) Rett episode where she shakes and shivers and breath holds and has jerky movements which I refuse to call a seizure because how can we not medicate these episodes if they are actually seizures?  And also, who has every heard of a seizure lasting for an hour? I hold her and sing to her - I need to learn more lyrics to songs, not just the choruses.  So this episode lasts for an hour and we both fall asleep at 5 am for another hour.  I count this as the first thing I've checked off my to-do list for the day.

By 7 am, I have made final edits to a PowerPoint presentation due at 10 am and printed 8 copies of it all to distribute.  Then I indulge Vince in a ride to school because it's so cold outside and notice that the BRAKE warning light is on and off in rhythm to the turns I'm making with the car.  So I wonder if that means that the brakes are going to fail on me right then and there with the two of us in the car.  So then I drive to the auto repair shop and buy a can of brake fluid ($3.29) and top it off at 7:45 am in the parking lot.  The BRAKE light is fixed.  I'm feeling very pleased with myself that I've repaired the car for less than 10 dollars.

Drive back home in my perfectly running car and take the dogs for a walk in the woods.  Get back by 8:30 am.


What happened the rest of the day?  Nothing much.  And then the day is over.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Boring conversation.


Do you know how to become the most uninteresting person? Tell your best friend the mile-by-mile account of the half-marathon you ran on Sunday.  I think, in the past, she has patiently listened to me  talk about how to stop the dogs from puking, how to put up baby gates in the kitchen, how to decide what shoes to wear and how to pick the perfect paint out from Home Depot (all of these conversations must have lasted at least 20 minutes, perhaps maybe even up to 45 minutes per conversation).  By the time I got to mile 8 of the half marathon she declared - OK Doris, I'm really happy for you, but I'm not the right person to talk to about this.  It's so boring and I have no idea what you are talking about.  I just had to laugh and say OK, OK, I'm done telling you, but I haven't yet gotten to the best part!  But if you insist, let's talk about something else. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Basement Master Bedroom Egress Window

In order to be classified as a bedroom at the basement, it must have an egress window (in case of fire) with a height of no more than 44" and a closet.  The contractor just finished it two days ago and, yesterday, the county inspection also gave an okay.

Therefore, today is the date to finish the outside of this window.  It was done (see picture) with two shrubs circled by screen wires to prevent it becomes the meal for the deer.  By the way, while working outside today, I saw three white tail deer passing by.  They thought we were room mates and our yard is their territory too.