Monday, September 30, 2013

Wake up!

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Sometimes Vince can be hard to wake up in the morning.  These days, he's up out of bed at 6:45 and out the door by 7:10.

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So it looks like the government is going to shut down tonight.  The patent office has some discretionary funds that I think it's going to access.  I think the office has about 2-3 weeks worth of operating costs.  So I get to keep going.  Very fortunate for us.


Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sunday night dinner

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Lots of talk about poop, moving and cupcakes. Wish you were there.

Preparation Work on the New Addition Continues ...




Preparation work on the new addition continues.... To provide enough working space on the addition, this three-post fence with screen & concrete attached was moved from the far corner behind the right side of the gate to to our backyard (picture 1).   And picture 2 shows the other view from the front.  The only work left is to erect to its upright position.  Rena and I probably need someone to help doing that.  We are thinking when the lawn people shows up, may be we can ask them.

After completion of the new addition outside panels, this fence will be moved back to it original position, may be with some minor adjustments to cover the bedroom windows from our neighbor's upstairs window. Because it can only be moved in its upright position (not like this move with wood board as rollers and using cantilever beams as the pusher), then we really need some one to help.

Btw, this was done in several days uring heavy rain.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Glen Echo carousel

Jeremy's suppose to be working all weekend on a presentation that's coming up.  He's been a little anxious about the amount of work that has to be done in the next two weeks or so.  (How come Sept/Oct seem to be the peak time for commitments both work and social?)  Vince was gone with a friend all day today.  Edda had a friend's birthday party at 2:30 this afternoon and I told Jeremy that it was OK for him to skip it, but he was feeling unproductive as I was getting ready to leave - so he ended up going with us to the Glen Echo carousel.  

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Edda was really happy he came.  She did love getting on the carousel and getting off the carousel, but was a little nervous throughout the actual ride.   Jeremy also managed to get Edda stuck in a toddler bucket swing - which happened out of my sight, so he had to ask two strangers to help him un-wedge Edda out of it.  I think I'm glad I wasn't there to witness it.

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Friday, September 27, 2013

Baseball at Camden Yards.

Baseball playoffs are next week? And the Orioles are out of contention?  No matter - we going going to out to the ballgame.

I got super cheap tickets to the Orioles/Blue Jay game last night (accessible seating!) and it was such a beautiful night.  Jeremy mentioned to me that he could see how enjoyable being at a baseball could be if one actually cared about baseball.  We brought Nat to show her the great American tradition - filled her with hot dogs, cotton candy and nachos.  Also attempted to get on the Jumbo Tron, but unfortunately since no one wore any appropriate team clothing, no one got on the Jumbo Tron. 

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The ball field is right next to the Maryland campus with the nursing school. So we got to actually see my actual school! Very exciting. I take all of my classes at the satellite campus a few miles from the house, so I didn't know when I'd make it to Baltimore to see the actual building.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Fence Posts & Preserved Wet Land


There is a local law stating that the permanent structure shall be at least 5 feet away from your neighbor.  Since we are building an addition, by checking we find out that our fence (we asked fence people to build several years) is actually about 1 foot inward from our boundary.  After talking to our neighbor, we agreed to push out the existing fence to its proper place.

Therefore, in the picture, a piece of the fence (right at back of me with marks of old fence boards) has been already pushed out.  Since it has been raining heavily recently, the rest will be completed when weather cooperates.

In addition, we just didn't know why suddenly the Washougal City decided to clear up the wet land preserved area right at our backyard as well as its adjacent parcels (the clear out area can be seen clearly in the picture in the back too).  So, I worked hard during the rain to make our backyard a bit nicer by putting a lot of 4x4 posts for a retention wall to house the future excavation dirt from the addition to level the ground.

See, even in the heavy rain pour, I was fairly well-equipped.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Traveling.

Jeremy's in Minneapolis until tomorrow. The house is both quieter and more hectic in his absence. It's quieter because I can usually get the kids to sleep by nine pm and then I have the rest of the evening to myself where I read or watch TV which usually doesn't happen when Jeremy's home. The rest of the evening meaning until 10 pm when I try and go to sleep. It's more hectic because the division of labor is not there - there is no tag-teaming of chores. I have been having trouble sleeping for the past week, a little bit anxious about all the stuff that's going on - nothing terrible, just a lot of work in a short period of time. Early waking for most of the week - up at 4 am. But last night, I had both trouble falling asleep and the early waking, so I'm operating on about 4 hours of sleep from last night. Tonight I have a new plan, at 10 pm, I'm going to go sleep with Edda and hopefully her peaceful, warm body will help me fall asleep.



Monday, September 23, 2013

Soccer

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Here we are sitting on the sidelines of Vince's soccer game. I love this soccer league - it really is a rec league. One practice a week, one game a week for about 6 weeks.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Color run!

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Vince and I ran a 5K today called the color run.  Every mile they throw colored corn starch at you until you become a rainbow colored being.  The people at the blue station really looked like Smurfs.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Before/after

Jeremy has been dutifully dieting for the past 5-6 months or so and now he's the lightest I have ever known him, I'm sure he's lighter now than when I first met him in 1994. Somehow I've managed to find two very similar, very silly before and after photos.

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It's been so beautiful here in DC. I just want to spend as much time as I can outside and just soak in the sun. I love fall weather here in my hometown!  Just a clarification - DC is not my hometown, Rockville is my hometown.

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On Tuesday night, Jeremy went to Edda's back to school night. There are only a handful of kids in Edda's class and I had the feeling that none of the other parents would show up and I couldn't show up because I have class on Tuesday night. But Jeremy could cover that night - although it was the rare kind of night we needed three cars. So Jeremy rented a zip car for the first time from the metro station from the way home from work which worked out well. Logistics aside, Jeremy spent a whole hour with Maureen, Edda's fantastic, energetic teacher. Edda is having a fantastic year - so happy to be in school - sleeping much less than previous years - and learning and enjoying new things all the time.  I often feel badly that I'm not pressing for more services for Edda like more inclusion time or more therapy (aka as advocating for your kid), but she's so happy and we are doing so well without me stressed out with trying to squeeze more stuff into my stuffed life that I'm happy with the trade off.

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I kind of freaked Vince out with college talk yesterday - in my defense, he brought it up, not me.  It's hard for me to strike a balance between "OMG - it's so incredibly competitive and we have to start preparing now even though you are 11" and "just work hard and you'll be fine where ever you end up".  He's a good, kind, conscientious kid.  I hope I don't screw that up for him.  Because I know that it's totally in my power to do that.

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Ruby is falling down our bare wooden stairs quite often now.  And then the other day, she slipped going up the stairs.  It's really upsetting to see.  So we set up a crate downstairs with plans to crate her at night so she doesn't follow us upstairs to bed.  It's not working - imagine that!  - after years of sleeping upstairs with us, the downstairs bedroom is not desirable.  We need to figure out how to rig up the stair lift to accommodate a 60 pound dog.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Cycle of exams.

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The first round of exams is starting tomorrow for school.  Today we had a review session for pathopharmacology which involved these "clickers" to answer multiple choice questions that were on the board.  Not board, I mean the screen.  I really miss school when they used chalk.  Dry erase markers are OK too.  Powerpoint is just so tiring and boring.

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Monday, September 16, 2013

Great birthday weekend.

I just ate the last slice of my birthday cake - it's a yellow cake with whip cream frosting and strawberries which is so delicious that I could eat it everyday. With this last piece of cake, my birthday weekend has ended. I had such a great birthday weekend, the weather was beautiful! I got to rock a baby to sleep and I got to sleep with a cat. I got to hang out at home with my family and eat my favorite cake - but I'm so happy mainly because I ran this 10 mile race on Sunday so much faster than I thought I ever could, I finished in 1:32, so a little under 9:15 pace, but for the first 6 miles I had tracked under 9 minute pace and I'm kind of still in a little bit of a high from it.

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I know - it's still pretty slow in the grand scheme of things, but it's pretty speedy for me and it's such a gift to myself that at 41 I've somehow managed to be in such great shape - that I now somehow have a body that can move quickly and actually run 10 miles at a time. I miss my running partner - did I tell you that her knee got injured via dog collision at the dog park? - so she hasn't run with my for the last month or so and she's my big motivator - she's a great running partner, a little faster than me, a little more determined than me, and always cheering me on. So it's been hard the last four weeks just training on my own.  We had dinner at her house on Friday night.  I promise not to talk too much about running because even though I'm very excited about it, I think it can be mind-numbingly boring to everyone else.

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I babysat on Saturday night - a trio of children and the youngest one - a toddler really - but a baby to me.  I got to hold him and feed him and rock him to sleep.  And he so peacefully went to sleep in my arms and I remember so well doing the same thing for Vince 10 years ago.  Jeremy had this ingenious plan that I spend the night at my babysitting gig because then the parents could stay out as late as they wanted and I could go to sleep right after the kids went to sleep and slip out for my race in the morning.  Which I did because all the kids were asleep by 8:15 and I was asleep by 9:15 (with the cat - I love cats but can't have them anymore because some regularly visiting Martins are allergic).

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Finally, an article from the NYTimes that quotes Jeremy.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Mom and google hang outs

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Having a video chat with my mom and my brother on my birthday -

Saturday, September 14, 2013

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DORIS

Happy Birthday to You!  Mom & Dad

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Hot

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It's been hotter this week than it has been all summer.  We've had to crank up (down?) the AC all week so we don't sweat all day.  Thank goodness today we had a good downpour to clear all the humidity, it's suppose to be beautiful this weekend.  Our deck (above photo) was built with the slats right next to each other - the builders had apparently never put together a deck before - so it holds water like crazy each time the rain comes down heavy.  Like a shallow swimming pool full of leaves.

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Jeremy and I took each other out to dinner last night for our combined birthday celebration.  We often get into fights about our birthdays.  I don't like to celebrate birthdays and Jeremy does like celebrating, but since Jeremy's birthday is a week before mine and usually goes uncelebrated, then when mine rolls around seven days later, Jeremy's a little grumpy at me for not celebrating his birthday and then he's grumpy when he's trying to figure out how to celebrate mine.  We've been together for almost 20 years now and this argument at least 15 times.  But I think we've figured it out now - basically we have to start talking about our birthdays in July and come up with a plan that is satisfactory to both parties.  So this dinner was two months in the planning. 

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Jeremy turned 45 and I'm turning 41. I enjoy so much growing old together.  So lucky to have found each other.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Back to school for everyone.

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As I was rounding the corner at the end of my run, I was lucky enough to catch Vince at the bus stop.  He leaves so early in the morning that even though I leave in the pitch black to start my workout, I barely make it home in time to see him head off to school.  Today was trash day so I found all the kids holding their noses to the aroma of trash trucks (which were nowhere to be seen)  while Maxi and I stopped by for a little doggie hello.

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Tonight I went to the middle school for Vince's back-to-school night.  It's the same middle school that I went to thirty years ago which makes me very happy.  The outside of the school looks very different than the school did thirty years ago - I assumed that they tore the whole thing down and renovated it in the early 90s when the school system had a lot of money to do these kinds of renovations - so I thought as I walked in that although it was the same school, it really wasn't physically the SAME school.  However, two steps into the front hallway, I realized with much happiness that they must have actually just built a new wing, or maybe installed air conditioning or something very minor because the school looks exactly the same as I remember.  I think that maybe he's taking social studies in the same classroom I took social studies in.

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My pathopharmocolgy teacher was in the Pentagon on 9/11 - she's a life long military nurse and was at the Pentagon in a non-clinical role (nursing policy?) when the plane hit and she helped triage all the wounded people at the Pentagon and get them mostly to burn centers in the area.  When I walked out of class at 7 pm, I saw that in the two hours I'd been at class, the whole lawn was covered with US flags to get ready for the campus memorial tomorrow.

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Monday, September 9, 2013

Our posted signs

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I'm amused this week that our household appears a little more politically conservative than usual.  With a magnet of the local Catholic Church on our car (via Nat) and a join the Cub Scout sign out front (via Vince), I would not fault anyone for thinking that we are all Republicans in the house.  I think Vince has (though the scouts) handled a gun more than I have and I know that the gun events at scout camp are, for him, one of the highlights of the whole week. During a 4 week period in my college days, I handled a pistol every day for at least hour.  I was a good shot (like my mother - who has an enormous trophy for winning a marksmanship contest) and I was thinking about joining the pistol team - but alas I did not.  I think I should have now that I look back on it, maybe it would have been good to go to some college level competitions.  But it was just the repetitiveness about it all - I mean - you just tried to breath the same way each time, to pull the trigger the same way each time, to have the same metal focus each time - that really seemed to pull me a little further away from being human.  I tend to sway too much towards the practical and unemotional - so even to this day, I have to remind myself that it's OK for everything to be a little messy - a bit out of my control.  I try to cultivate a little messiness in life - which is not really that hard because no one else in the family ever wants to do anything the most simple and practical way.  No one.  All trips must include a scenic detour.

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Edda has a little wound on her ear that won't heal.  It's at the junction where the ear lobe meets the side of the head.  I guess Edda's earlobe there has the tiniest bit of a fold and therefore holds moisture a little more than a smooth expanse of skin.  Every time I have the chance, I kind of clean it and wipe it down, but I probably do it only once a week when I notice it - it's probably been there for months and months (not getting better nor getting worse) and today someone at school noticed it and sent me an email about it.  I wonder if she would have this problem if she had Rett Syndrome.  I mean - it's not really a part of her body that's impacted by Rett Syndrome - would a typical 9 year old have a non-healing wound on their ear for months?  It's hard to imaging that she would have it as a typical child, but I have no reason to think that Rett has caused this.

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Today in nursing school, I learned all the seizure class drugs.  All their modes of operation, what seizures they work on, what side effects occur for each type of drug.  It all seems scientific and orderly - like as if you can order pizza with exactly the toppings you want and 15 minutes later - Poof!  All the seizures are gone! As a mother of a child who has been on seizure meds, it all seems so not scientific and orderly.  It seems like a guessing game for everyone involved.  A guessing game which always starts with Keppra (mode of mechanism unknown but tolerated very well).

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Join Donald's Foot Ball League

Week 1 results were in.  I was only one point off from Donald's.  Not too bad.  GO, GO & GO, NOEL ALL THE WAY!!!


Sunday, September 8, 2013

Many cookies.

Vince had a sore throat Friday morning and looked glum when he came to my room at 6:35 am. I gave him a once over and then gave him a Motrin and then promptly sent him to school. And I said that if he felt badly, to go to the nurse and that we'd be able to pick him up. Although who exactly would pick him up would be an issue - I was going to be 15 miles away around the Beltway during the morning and then Nat was going to Baltimore to pick up someone from the airport. Anyways I told him the schedule - that it might take us a while, but we'd be there to pick him up if everything didn't get better during the day. Sending him to school probably was a mistake - by the time he came home at 3, he was running a fever and took to his bed. I had been home working all afternoon and I asked why he didn't call - he said he didn't feel bad until 6th period and that he asked his teacher if he could go to the nurse and the teacher said that there was only an hour left of school - so just tough it out. Poor kid.

Jeremy spent his birthday weekend making a bunch of cookies - oatmeal raisin, chocolate chip (with and without walnuts), snickerdoodles and finally lemon sugar cookies.  We hosted a coffee hour for our local mayor/council candidates for our fair city.  We invited everyone we knew to come over - we got a few people to come out - we actually met some neighbors right near us we'd never known before and I'm happy I had the chance to meet all the candidates.  There were too many cookies.  But they were all delicious, I think I had cookies for all three meals on Saturday.  Meeting neighbors meant that we could learn the history of our house - our house is a new house built in an older neighborhood - it was built after the original house was torn down.  Apparently the gossip around the neighborhood was that the house that used to be on our lot was the house you could count on to get your drug fix - apparently they had a whole colored outdoor light scheme which would tell the customers when they were selling or maybe when they were out of stock.  All this is pretty incredible because the chief of police lives like 5 houses down on the next block!

I ran 15 miles this weekend.  Five on Saturday and ten today.  I'm beat.  Going to bed right now.  This morning, before I ran the 10 miles, I woke up at 5 am to volunteer at the start line for a half marathon which started right at the metro station near our house.  The winner of the women's race came in at 5:50 pace.  Just a smidge slower than half my pace.  Crazy.

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Saturday, September 7, 2013

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It's Jeremy's 45 birthday today - Nat was sweet to make an Oreo/cheesecake dessert for him.  With a chocolate dipped strawberry no less.  

Friday, September 6, 2013

Ice cream in the mail.

I think I've mentioned before that I get everything online - this week we got a stand alone chin up bar/dip bar, toner for the printer, and kick-ass red boots for Edda's Halloween costume (either Wonder Woman or Super Girl). But yesterday - we actually got a shipment of ice cream in the mail!  It was a gift and it's kind of a hoot to get something frozen in the mail - I wonder if Edda's Rett Syndrome blood sample in 2006 that we FedExed from Singapore to Texas was frozen on dry ice (that was not as exciting as ice cream in the mail).  The dry ice that kept the ice cream frozen was appreciated by Vince who spent about an hour playing with it.

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Tomb Sweeping, Cinder Cone (Lassen National Park), Mt. Shasta & Our Trip








The main purpose of our trip down to Los Angeles was to pay respect to my parents - tomb sweeping (see first photo).  Of course my parents and I had differences on many things.  But,without their insistence on my education, among many other things, probably I would not be what I am today.  My feeling on this only gets stronger and stronger as time passing by.

The second photo shows the Cinder Cone of the Lassen Volcanic National Park, CA from far and the base.  The third and the fourth photos were taken on the top.  The last picture has the background of top portion of Mt. Shasta, CA.

The climbing to the Cinder Cone was quite unique - it was very sandy and difficult to climb.  Essentially it was 3 steps forward with 1 step slipping backward.  Sands and gravels were every where.  It was fun though.  The cone was very smooth and breath-taking.

Besides tomb sweeping, in summary, our trip also consisted of ~2,400 miles of driving, two dinners with relatives, one luncheon with classmates, climbing two mountains, one night sleeping inside the car at a rest area as well as casino and shopping trips along the way.  These all happened within 7 consecutive days. Don't know when Rena and I will be able do it again, especially physically.



To be - as it is.

It's so hard to find things that Edda likes to do.  We take her lots of places, but it doesn't mean that she doesn't spend hours a day pacing in front of Dora the Explorer videos.  It really is her preferred activity - I can almost hear the sigh of relief after a long car ride or vacation when she comes home and finds her TV just the way she left it.  And really, I would like to indulge Edda's every whim, but everything else in the whole world seems not as satisfying as a good Dora theme song.  I suppose it is not unlike Vince's desire to play Minecraft, nor my desire to take a nap everyday at 1:30 pm.  This year, in a fit of just-do-it-ness, I emailed around to sign Edda up for adaptive swimming classes and was ever hopeful that this was going to be the activity that Edda would love (I have gotten many positive reports from camp of Edda's love for swimming, but the whole tedium of getting her in/out swimsuits in a wet (danger - slip and fall hazard) and public changing room and the constant fear of pooping in the pool and thus shutting the pool down for high bacteria counts has me a little overwhelmed) - but alas, I got the email back that said that Edda would not be a "good fit" for the program.

I realize that I'm doing the same thing with Vince, somehow his love of Minecraft suppresses his love for anything else - today I drove him to a trampoline class (have you seen the craziness that is Olympic trampolining?) in hopes of an activity that will stick to him for longer than a season - but we observed the class which was as expected, a bunch of tiny 6 year old girls just jumping up and down on three small trampolines in an underwhelming gym.  At least he was game enough to come check it out with me.

Here's Edda outside school today enjoying the beautiful summer/fall weather.  I think it's enough really.  I want it to be enough.

Edda today

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Biking!

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Nursing school started last week. I'm one of only two students (out of 50) going part time, so I'm not doing the "typical" class rotation - so no clinical this term, no patient assessment this term either - just 2 classes, straight up lectures. Even though I have my scrubs and my stethoscope - I'm not doing anything besides classroom work. I'm a little bit unnerved by the prep that the other students have done, I'm only on the third class, but it seems like everyone else well prepared and I'm, well, kind of not that well prepared. Not only are there classes Monday, Tuesday and Wed, but there are also recitation sections as well. I've very rarely had good experiences with recitation sections, so I'm going to go the first week and see if they are informative and then probably go it alone from there.

School is 2.5 miles from the house and classes will be held in the late afternoon and as the fall turns into winter, it'll get dark - so Jeremy made me some kick-ass bike lights.

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Monday, September 2, 2013

Weekend with Paul

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Paul, Jeremy's first post-college roommate, who is an accomplished runner and coach was looking over my training plan that I'm following for my next half marathon scheduled in a few weeks.   He was at the house this weekend for a brief end-of-summer visit.  We'd never met his wife nor his kiddo before, so it was really nice to have them stay at the house.  The house is a little too big for our needs (who am I kidding - we probably only need 1000 sq feet to live in comfortably), so we generally "seal" off the basement - and don't let the kids play alone down there because whatever stuff is in storage down there usually ends up out of storage and all over the place (Easter eggs, Christmas ornaments, ping pong balls/sports equipment - I might have even once been greeted with huge piles of feathers), but we open it up for guests and this weekend we had a full house.  Katherine is here on her way to New Mexico - we had so many guests that we moved Edda into our room, which - other than the first night when she was confused where she was when she woke up and couldn't go back to sleep and kept us all up half the night - has been just fine.

Anyways, back to the running.  It's been a weird running season for me (usually there is a spring running season and fall running season - so if you are training for half or full marathon, you generally have one in the spring and one in the fall - except for the crazy people who run them all the time) - my running partner got her knee really hurt by galloping dogs - nothing running related and has been on crutches for weeks and probably will be recovering for another few weeks - so my motivation has been pretty spotty for running this race.  There is nothing like doing a 9 or 10 mile run alone in the early morning to really question why one is doing the crazy thing.  We also got Edda's new wheelchair which I thought I could take running with me (which I can and I have).  And then my ankle feels a little twing-y and my lower back is a little sore.  So the training has been a little unfocused and confused.  But Paul looked at my running plan and suggested some tweaks to it and I feel a little better about it all.  We will see what happens.


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Roadside Hilton

Yesterday, after family dinner at Los Angeles, we went back to grandppa's house.   The house was fairly disorganized with things everywhere and the weather was hot.  Aunt Liz tried to clear and clean up one room for us to stay.  But,  there was too much to do.  We decided to check into a local hotel instead.  After, all things were done, we found out the hotel room A/C didn't work well enough. We decided to take off and drove up north to San Francisco and along the way, we would stop and check in hotel that we could find.  Guess what, after checking five hotels (two holidays inn and three best westerns), they all were sold out.

It was 10:30 PM already.  So, we decided to check in to our Road Side Hilton instead - in our car, at the rest area and facing the rest room with plenty of street lights.  Of course, there were a lot of "us" there.  I didn't know wether it is romantic or because of economic reasons.

In our car, Mom insisted to have the front seat.  After woke up around 2:00 AM and went to the rest room,  I found out Mom already occupied my place and was at the back.  It was good because at least for half of the night she had a better bed :)

Wow, both of us survived the night and felt pretty good next morning with stiffness everywhere.  Above all, we just saved one night lodging expenses.  But, I really didn't know how we made it all the way like this.  Roadside Hilton is the way to go.  Mom already decides to spend ~$150 on shopping.