Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Passenger Rena Lee, .., You have only 30 Seconds Left to Board the Plane

I picked Mom up at the Nashville International Airport and drove to our hotel at Franklin, TN.  We arrived at a diner place at Franklin downtown called Puckett's Grocery.  Only to find out that the whole restaurant had two seatings at new year's eve, 6:00 PM and 8:00 PM.  But, it was completely sold out and reserved. Too bad.

On the way to our Franklin, TN hotel from the airport.  Mom told me she fell deep sleep on a waiting chair in front of the podium.  Until, the PA announced repeatly "Passenger Rena Lee, Passenger Rena Lee, you have only 30 seconds left to board the plane".  She almost missed the whole thing.

Pretty funny I guess.  I clicked the check-in icon right before "24 hours - delta" and got a Southwest A32 for boarding.  But she became the last one to get on.


Vince's bedroom is room is done.  It was a lot of work.  But it looks fantastic!

Since Jeremy had to empty Vince's room, he managed to convince Vince to give up lots of old toys (hooray!)  But Vince did want to keep all his old Legos (boo!).  Jeremy spent some time sorting through the Legos to weed out some of the non-lego toys in the bin.

Edda is enjoying her hand-me-down iPad.  Thanks Donald.  There is a bit more snot on it now than when you had it.

Dropped Mom off at National Airport today and we shared an oyster po' boy at Legal Seafoods which was fabulous.

And finally, Vince is hosting a sleepover to celebrate the new year.  I spy four cans of silly string in the house. The boys promise promise me that they will clean it up tomorrow morning.  I'm not so sure this cleaning will happen.  Vince provisioned the house with Mountain Dew and cheese puff things.  The adults in the house are going to celebrate by going to bed early.


Do I recap 2014?  It was good.  What are my resolutions for 2015?  I don't have any goals.  I like showing up and seeing what happens - it's almost always surprising and interesting (in both good and bad ways).  Oh, I forgot.  I do have goals for 2105.  #1. Get enough sleep.  #2.  Be nice.  (#2 is easier to do when you do #1).  So boring, I know, but it pleases me and makes my life a lot easier.

I read the book Wonder this year.  You should read it too, especially if you love a special needs child. Here are Mr. Browne's precepts: (and at the end, there are some precepts from the characters in the book)

When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.
--Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

Your deeds are your monuments.
--inscription on an Egyptian tomb.

Have no friends not equal to yourself.

Audentes fortuna iuvat.
Fortune favors the bold.

No man is an island, entire of itself.
--John Donne

It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers.
--James Thurber

Kind words do not cost much. Yet they accomplish much.
--Blaise Pascal

What is beautiful is good, and what is good will soon be beautiful.

Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can
To all the people you can,
As long as you ever can.
At all the times you can,
--John Wesley's Rule

Just follow the day and reach for the sun!
--The Polyphonic Spree "Light and Day"

It's not enough to be friendly. You have to be a good friend.
Charlotte's Precept

Don't be friends with jerks.
Henry's Precept

If you can get through middle school without hurting anyone’s feelings that’s really cool beans.
Summer's Precept

Everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their life because we all overcometh the world.
Auggie's Precept

Don’t try too hard to be cool. It always shows and that's uncool.
Amos's Precept

Sometimes it’s good to start over.
Julian's Precept

John 16:33
"I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world."

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Closing out the old year. Ringing in the new.

Although the kids are still out of school for the rest of the week, we are settling back into our old routines which means that I'm able to hit my priority #1 - getting enough sleep (once I'm able to do this, everything else follows so much more smoothly).  I'm back at work - the quarter ends this biweek.  Jeremy's office is closed, but he's working a bit and he's decided to paint Vince's room.  He's doing it by the book, all the steps, no shortcuts - washing the walls, taping and drop cloth-ing everything, patching up all the holes and priming.  He even got himself coveralls and a painters hat.  We'll see how it goes!

Taylor Swift has abandoned Spotify and I must admit I couldn't resist and I downloaded her whole album and I'm listening to it during work this week.  Ha ha.  Love it.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Worked Inside and Around the House

I came back for Christmas to be with Rena.  My birthday dinner was very good.  The wonderful birthday card from Vincent was funny as well as creative.

In the meantime,  for safety, I kept working inside and around the house.  I installed two toilet safety frames, one in the master bedroom, the other in the first floor bath.  In there, an additional long vertical grab bar was also installed for the ease of setting down and getting up.

Several entrance doors were taped with glow-in-the-dark tape which consists of aluminum oxide grit materials.  It helps immensely when the light is just turned off and/or becomes unavailable.  After that, the glow will gradually fade away.  It works better for a couple of hours.  Indeed, I got up around 1:00 AM for two days to check.  And, it is indeed just that.

Outside the house, I taped up the entire wooden bridge in our backyard with anti-skid black tapes.  I also installed 7 vertical wooden posts for round fences to be installed later (next trip back in mid-January) to keep off deer.

Oh, btw, Mom's three Mahjon widowed friends (77 or beyond) insisted to take Mom and me out for launch, yesterday. They never asked for the restaurant I preferred.  They simply picked a place worth the money. What could I say?  I guess they have been their household boss for a long, long time.  But, I did enjoy their invitation, food and their companionship - very, very different from all others.

looking forward for Mom to coming down to Nashville, TN for four days to celebrate our new year (2015) together next Wednesday (12/31),

Friday, December 26, 2014

Japanese Steakhouse.

It's been busy here at the Martin-Lee household.  I'm all holiday-ed out.  We did go out to dinner last night to celebrate my father's birthday.  Noel = born on Christmas.  The young lady seated next to us was also celebrating her birthday and my father was hopeful that her name was Noelle, but alas, it was not.

We went to a Japanese steak house where they set oil on fire, flipped eggs into pockets and performed acrobatics with utensils.  I was able to capture photos of some of my family members attempting to catch flying bits of food.  It was amusing in just the right way, we all had fun.

Hey look!  Jeremy's wearing his Christmas vest again!

And here is my dad opening his FARTing card (which was selected by Vince) - lest you think I gave my dad a f*&*ing card as he mentioned in his blog post below.  I can be crass, but giving my father a f(*&^ing birthday card on Christmas is not something I'm capable of doing.

Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday

Early this morning, while in Oakridge, TN, Rena and Donald both called and wished me a "Merry Christmas & Happy Birthday". After finishing my apartment chores, in the afternoon hours, I flew back to Dulles, Washington DC.

Doris was already there at the airport to pick me up.  She then drove home and picked up Jeremy, two grand kids.  Her final stop was at our house to pick up Rena.

Afterward, we went to dinner together at a Japanese Steak House nearby.   The food was excellent and Vincent was pretty amazed to watch the cook cooking in front of him.  We had a good time together. Vincent even spoke a couple of Chinese sentences to the waitress and the cook.  His Chinese is pretty good.

Then, we went back to our house to taste my birthday cake and exchanged Christmas gifts.  Rena hand knitted one small blanket for Vincent and for Edda, a hand-knitted skirt.

Besides cake, Rena also gave me a $100.00 bill in a red envelop as a birthday gift to buy a dremel tool. And from Vincent and Doris, a big box of chocolates and a beef stick.  With it, there is a f__ting birthday card, generated those funny sounds from a high-tech chip inside.

Well, finally, wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Chinese. Party.

Vince's first Chinese essay:

I had promised Vince that I would look up a way to type in Chinese while he was at school on Tuesday and I found a few ways that were unsatisfactory.  He came home from school and I told him I couldn't figure out exactly how he could type his essay and he promptly went to youtube and typed in "how to type in chinese mac" and found a 3 minute tutorial and 5 minutes later he was typing this essay in MS word.  I'm almost more impressed with that than the essay itself.


Jeremy's work holiday party was Thursday night.  He went to work in a demure olive green cardigan which covered up (you guessed it) his favorite Christmas vest.


These are the people dreaming up national fuels policy.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Look who is in town!  Sue!  I'm sure when we were 16, we talked about cute boys.  Now we talk about kids, child care, real estate and aging parents.  I got to hold a baby today.  Sometimes babies like it when I hold them, but often they don't like it (hmmm, maybe this doesn't bode well for the peds nurse idea).  Bradley didn't like it very much when I held him.  I showed him the most exciting part of Rockville - the kid section at the main library.  Sue hadn't yet been to the new library, we both remember the old library where we spent time going through the immense card catalog to do school papers.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Festival of Lights.

I forgot that it was the first night of Hanukkah, I had to rummage around to find our menorah buried under all the Christmas stuff.  We have a silver one which Bob and Katherine gave us many, many years ago.  I gave it a quick polish and we lit the candles and said the blessing, but dinner was already made - BLTs.  Oh well, I tried.

Monday, December 15, 2014


Winter concert tonight.  Vince is in the 8th grade class because he's taking Chinese which I guess is the same time as the 7th grade orchestra class.


Edda enjoying the concert in her way too small wheelchair.  The repair people still haven't answered our emails.  Maybe Edda'll be using this old wheelchair when she's 17.


Edda fell asleep to the choral rendition of Maroon 5's Maps.


After the concert, Vince worked the school store and sold Jeremy a Santa hat.


Post concert celebration at the local bubble tea place.  And we are studying Chinese!  A week and a half of study has pulled Vince's grade from a C to B.  Which is more than I can say for my Adult Health final which I got a C on!  I don't think I *ever* got a C on a final in college.  (Grad school, another issue - I remember getting a 17 on a test.  The math was getting really hard. So hard.) Nursing school is killing me.  I know I have a ton of other stuff I'm doing, but really, I could have studied another week and not done much better.  This is an example of a question:  You have a patient with a stroke who is unconscious and unresponsive.  He also has acid reflux.  What do you assess frequently? I know all the things to do for a stroke patient.  I know all the things you do for an acid reflux patient (you do too: Tums, don't lie down after a meal and don't eat spicy foods).  But what the heck do you do for a patient with acid reflux AND stroke.  I figured you'd ignore the acid reflux because you have a crap ton of other things to worry about.   Ha, ha.  No matter.  This term is done!  I'm done with going to school full-time and working full-time.  I was really lucky to have pulled this term off - the stars aligned.  Let the holidays begin.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Dry Aging Chicken

Well, I guess Rena's left arm is getting better.  I can see it, not from her directly, but rather from our credit card charges.  Our cards went to sleep for a while.  Right now, I am glad it gradually moves back to normal  - a lot of them from Dollar Stores or Dollar Trees.  But, few items actually come from Macy's.  That is good too.

Also, her activities increase a lot - sewing, harvesting potatoes, etc.  Look, here are some of her dry aging chicken in the garage.  Last year, they were hung everywhere, though tasty but not too neat, I thought. Therefore, I installed several racks. But, she still used those crooked paperclips.  It looked slightly better, but not much.

Right now, look, all those s-shape hangers (not paperclip).  They are very neat indeed.  I am very impressed. Well, "Happy Wife means Happy Life" :)  What more can one ask?

Health update.

Edda: she's the healthiest of us all.  Well, as long as you overlook the Rett Syndrome, which granted, is something large to overlook, but I do it all the time.  I mean if you count the Rett Syndrome, then she's the sickest all the time which just seems unfair for a little girl with abs of steel and an immune system that kicks ass.  (OK, I've totally jinxed myself now.  She's going down with something soon.)


Vince: Missed school on Friday due to stomach issues.  Maybe due to the indordinate amount of candy he ate while making the gingerbread house.  Slept until 11am that day.  Missed the weekend campout.  Spent the weekend chillaxing.


Jeremy: Stomach issues too.  We'll leave it at that.  Not terrible.  A little queasy.


Doris:  I've devolved into a flare-up of mouth sores (which I've had for my whole life on/off) which prevent me from eating happily.  I've noticed that for the past few years, whenever these flare-ups happen - it's usually because I'm stressed and then it is painful and completely wipes me out.  So I've been sleeping a lot.  I have my big, last exam tomorrow.  I'm trying to study, but I keep closing my eyes.  I'm trying not to worry about it.  I hate being underprepared, but it is what it is.  It's not the end of the world.


Ruby:  I really thought she was on death's door last week.  So much poop.  She didn't want to get up.  She didn't want to wag her tail.  But then we got a batch of prescription food and some antibiotics for her and it cleared right up.  She's back to her old self.  I hate wet food.  It makes me nauseous.  In order for me to spend the least amout of time with the wet food, I served Ruby's food to her like this:


Maxi:  She had the same thing Ruby had, but it cleared up on its own.  She was jealous that Ruby got wet food and she got only kibble.

Potatoes from Mom's Veggie Garden

These potatoes are from Mom's Veggie Garden.  Looks great and taste must be good.

Mahjong Game

Yesterday afternoon, Mom called me and, evidently, she was very excited in the phone because she was the only winner in their old-lady Mahjong game.  I guess she rarely wins anything - good job.

I always think that Mom's characters and personality don't belong to those types of persons that can win games (cold, calculated, expression-less, etc).  Of course, this is just my thought.  Oops!  what did I just say ...  I am in trouble already :)

But, I think in a way it is a great compliment - she is nice indeed.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Gingerbread house.

I want to be a person who loves December. I don't love December - even when I tell myself it's all about hope, joy and love which I'm perfectly capable of successfully reminding myself the other 11 months of the year (mostly). I'm trying all the things: eating carbs/not eating carbs, exercising/not exercising, napping/not napping, working more/working less, more social/less social (which means curling up under the covers). Gah. The shortening of the days and the forced holiday joyfulness makes me moody and melancholy.


But!  Holiday cheerfulness still abounds in the house.  Sam and Hannah were over today making gingerbread houses.  Note:  I did not coordinate this fun.  It was all Vince and Nat's idea and Sam and Hannah just happened to stumble by because they accidentally locked themselves out of their house.

There was even a youtube fireplace going on in the background.


Here's Donald having some fun at his work holiday party.  It's a proven fact that people have more fun in California.  Jeremy's work party is next week.  I'm pretty sure we won't be having this much fun.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Thai food tonight with mom.  So far we've also tried Indian and Moroccan.   Ethiopian and Korean next.  Yum.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Finals week.

Finals!  Almost done.  This was a doozy of a term.  Loved it, but NEVER again am I taking on this much work.  It seemed like I worked every waking moment.  I want my weekends back.

Monday, December 8, 2014


My mother brought over some take-out roasted chicken this past weekend.  I ate a bunch of chicken parts and I thought to myself, this is the most delicious chicken EVER!  So juicy, fatty and savory! When has chicken ever tasted this good? I was very happy eating my chicken and then I got to the bottom of the take out container and found a duck head looking at me.  Chicken is really tasty when it's really duck.


We got a real, live Chrismas tree from the firemen down the street.  Vince can't ever remember having a live tree in the house.  We are having a blowout Christmas extravaganza this year - it's going to be memorable.  You are going to have to wait and see how awesome it's going to be (hopefully).


I did wear my sequins again on Sunday.  Here I am doing my best impression of a Hong Kong tai tai.


Ruby is still having gut issues (so much poop.  so much.):

We took her to the vet today.  I hope it's nothing.  Or something we can do something about.  I hope it's not something we can do nothing about.


I would be remiss to not post a picture of the amazing garage clean up Jeremy did this weekend while I studied.

Sunday, December 7, 2014


Went to see the Harmonizers yesterday.  I think we may be outgrowing this tradition as well.  Santa was a good sport and let my heavy kids sit on his knees.  Edda's asking for her missing guanine like she does every year (location on the X-chromosome, the long arm, not the short one, MECP2 gene, exact location: 806delG, 4th and final exon - causing frame shift and resulting in an early stop codon. I think Santa tries pretty hard every year for her, but it's hard to find and often out of stock.)

Here we are in our Christmas glory.  Red and green all around.  Not too shabby.  I'm even wearing sequins.  And guess what?  I'm wearing it again today!

Home Coming, Windy, Damp, Cold and Lonesome

Last Friday (12/5), I flew back home to Washington State at noon time.  It was a very windy, damp and cold day (41 F).  Our house had no water (shut off to save a minimum monthly charge of ~$40.00 ?) & no heat (turned off during the Winter time intentionally).

A couple, friends of ours, were graciously enough to feed me two hot meals and asked me to stay with them, one night. I was kind of feeling of not bothering them too much.  So decided to stay in my own place.  I had two dawn blankets on top of me, a form blanket underneath me.  It was very warm indeed in a 41 F environment.  Of course, before reaching home to bed, I went to a nearby Safeway first to use their rest room.

Next morning (Saturday, 12/6), when I woke up around 4:00 AM, it was very, very cold and I rushed to Portland Airport (PDX) without any delay.  At least, it was warm there and equipped with many rest rooms.  Boy, was I glad when I was there after returning my rental car.  This airport at that moment, was the best airport that I have visited - nice, warm and with hot water.

I imagine that there was something wrong with me NOW because when I was a kid - no heat, no hot water year long. Dawn blankets?  Forget it.  Well, while staying in bed, I did feel the night was just windy, damp and cold. On top of that, I did feel lonesome :) and almost called Rena (too bed her time would pass midnight, swapping geographical locations?).

Btw, in my outbound flight, I almost collect $500.00 for voluntarily yielding my seat for the next flight.  Finally the airlines thought I wasn't that overweight.  They could take one more passenger.  In inbound flight, I turned down an offer of $300 taking the next day flight.

Also, I liked to write this blog in my house but my fingers were too numb to type.

Next year in January, I will take the same journey.  Hopefully, it will be warmer with clear sky.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Sleepover. Blue.

Vince arranged his own sleepover last night.  Texted his friends and then they showed up at the door at 9:30 pm.  Practically my own bedtime.  Vince also made breakfast for them this morning.


We are wading through an impassable swamp to fix Edda's wheelchair.  It is really frustrating to work with the people who are suppose to come and repair it.  We call and leave phone numbers and email addresses and don't hear from them for weeks because they are calling us back on an old phone number that hasn't existed for five years.  We are told that brakes will be shipped in three days because they are under warranty, but then it turns out that they aren't under warranty but they really don't have an idea how long the ordering will take.  And then the prescription that was written from our pediatrician to the repair place might have just said "repair wheelchair" and not "repair wheelchair and parts" so we might need to get a new prescription in order for them to order the parts, but again, no one can find the prescription to figure out what it said.  Jeremy and I are capable people, we have all the resources necessary to perform this efficiently and it's driving us crazy.


Edda fell at school yesterday.  She hasn't fallen in a long, long time.  Of course, when she falls, everyone feels terrible.  It's happened on my watch, on Jeremy's watch, on all the au pair watches and at school where there is practically one adult to every kid.  There is a dent in our own living room drywall from the last time Edda fell in our house.  It's a tricky balance to allow Edda enough freedom to walk around and then to protect her too.


I was looking at Edda's hands and feet today.

I've been better at putting lotion on Edda's feet at night.   I just want her feet to be beautiful.  We've noticed that Edda's toes and ankles are kind of permanently splayed out because she inherited my duck walk - I'm going to try to make an appointment (hopefully before the new year) to get her some AFOs (ankle-foot orthotics).  Maybe they can be like how braces work on teeth and gently move (or keep) her feet back to "normal" or just have them be less "not normal".

Friday, December 5, 2014

Eyes. Vest. Good night.


We got our eyes checked at Costco a few days before Thanksgiving.  Both of us have noticed our prescriptions changing.  Our eyes are old and tired.

Jeremy got his eyes dialated.  I did not so I could drive us home.  Jeremy has freakishly long eyebrows.


I can't decide if getting our eyes checked at Costco is a good deal or not.  On the one hand, the exam and the resultant progressive bifocal glasses were amazingly cheap.  But then we spend a gargantuan amount of money on gum, toothpaste, Christmas decorations, juice boxes, thermal underwear and aluminum foil while we think about getting the largest TV known to mankind (No XL TV.  Sorry Edda.).


Jeremy shows off his red and green plaid vest that he ordered for himself for Christmas.  Who is this man?  Is this really how we amuse ourselves these days?  Apparently, the answer is yes. It is.


Edda says good night!  Good night, Edda.  Sleep well.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

2nd Thanksgiving.

Because we didn't have a chance to celebrate Thanksgiving with Nat and also because Jeremy wanted a Thanksgiving where he was in charge of the WHOLE menu, we had 2nd Thanksgiving on Tuesday night.

Vince has been teaching us about "hand hugs" for the past few weeks.  A hand hug is where you both take you right (or left) hands and place them palms together and gently wrap thumbs around the other person's hand giving a little squeeze so your hands "hug" each other.

I thought he made this up himself - or at least his pals made this up.  But I sitting in the hallway right before an exam on Monday and I saw some 20 year olds give each other the "hand hug" for good luck right before the exam.  I guess it's been around for a while and I just didn't know about it.

Jeremy did not make the whole turkey again.  He just made a turkey breast.  He also didn't have mashed potatoes - the only starch was stuffing.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Ruby and Monty.


Before Thanksgiving, our friend Cindy came with her family and stayed a few days.  (This is not the best photo.  Sometimes I get beautiful photos, sometimes there is just a photo to say that something happened.) We took them to our favorite Chinese food place.  Their daughter, Melanie, LOVED the dogs.  I don't think the dogs have ever gotten so much attention within a 48 hour span.


Cindy got her first dog, Monty, just a few months after we got Ruby.  This was way before any of us had any kids, so the dogs were our only children.  Cindy, Jeremy and I (and Ruby and Monty) would spend every Saturday morning at at local, hidden Austin swimming hole just watching the dogs play in the water for hours.  It was great fun.  (There was a golden named Hoover who would dive in two feet of muddy water for rocks that were 8 inches across.)

Once morning in December 2001, Cindy called us and said that we absolutely needed to go to Petco to get the dogs a picture with Santa.  While they were here visting, I managed to find mine!  2001!  Ten thousand things have happened since 2001, but both dogs are still alive and happy.


Both dogs are sick now (meaning Maxi and Ruby).  Ruby refused her dinner yesterday which is unheard of in the history of being a laborador.  Being the pessimist that I am, I concluded that she must be on death's door and I made a "just in case" appointment for next Monday to do a chest x-ray and labs if she didn't perk up.  But 2 hours after the appointment was made, she's feeling (and acting) much more herself.

I know exactly what labs I want to see: WBC, Creat, BUN and Liver enzymes.  I know what the #s should be for a human, but I don't know them for dogs.


Now let the stream of odd gifts that make us happy start:  fancy orange socks.


And the dorky-est digital clock ever.  This is going to be hung in our kitchen for all to see.  Can we be any more not-stylish?


Tuesday, December 2, 2014


Advent is here and so are our Advent calendars.  We have chocolate ones we got for $1.50 from IKEA and Edda has a special wooden house one that we've had for a few years.   Last year, we went to New Mexico, so this year is suppose to be a grand staycation year with lots of decorations at home.  Hmm.  I'm not sure that that vision going to happen, you'll have to ask me after the 15th.  Vince's enthusiasm for trees and decorations has peaked and now is sliding down the other side of the monomodal curve - he's still keen on gifts, but not as keen to hang 100 ornaments.  Edda, of course, is our Buddha - fully enlightened and not needing any of this extra stuff to know what is important.

Someone sweet sent us a real wreath.  With the nice seasonal smell to go along with it.

Monday, December 1, 2014


I'm in bed now and I'm too lazy to go get my camera to download today's photos, so you get only commentary today.


Vince is struggling with his Chinese class.  He gets really stressed right before exams and he was very pleased that he managed to get a C last quarter.  But now we are at almost the end of the next quarter and he's stressed again.  He says half the kids in his class are growing up in Chinese speaking households and the other half have parents who have hired one-on-one tutoring.  I have to admit, I have not provided either amenity.  Now that my workload is lifting a little (amazing that as I slide into finals, I think that my workload is less because I don't have to go to the hospital two days a week anymore), I think I'm going to try to help Vince out each night for 15-20 minutes.  I guess I can learn Chinese too.  My accent is so terrible and now any remnants of an authentic Chinese accent is going to be further diluted another generation.   I think they are only 200 characters in - not completely insurmountable, I suppose.


I can't believe that Thanksgiving has turned right into December.  This is the most stressful time of the year for me.  I'm grouchy and unreasonable and generally a grinch.  I'm hope that I'm less so each year, but sometimes it's hard to reach that goal.


Maxi is sick.  She has diarrhea from the seventy thousand treats that people fed her over Thanksgiving.  This means we are getting up in the middle of the night (once at midnight for me and once at three am for Jeremy) to take her for a walk around the neighborhood.  And her farts are really smelly.  Sigh.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thanksgiving II.

It snowed a lot the day before Thanksgiving at Bard.

It was beautiful.  Especially since we didn't have to travel in it.

Look!  Kiki took a photo of all four of us!  Wonderful!

My most loyal blog commenter, Sheila and her husband, Scott.  And their soon-to-be-mechanical-engineer son, Josh.  They are from Texas.  There is nothing more fun than watching a bunch of Texans have a snowball fight.


I did run a 10K race Thansgiving morning in Troy, NY (about an hour north of Bard): 51:19 - just about 8:15 pace.  I negative split it which means I kept running faster as the race went on which is the most amazing feeling.  First mile at 8:30 pace, last mile at 8:00 pace and a little kick the last 0.2 miles.  Delicious!


Saturday, November 29, 2014


Happy post-Thanksgiving y'all.  The Martin gathering was up at Bard this year and even my parents and Donald all made it up to there despite the huge snowstorm centered on Bob and Katherine's house.  My mom made her traditional egg rolls which has been on the Martin Thanksgiving menu since 1997.

I didn't take many photos of Thanksgiving, but it was lovely with all the family and friends we haven't seen in a long time. I present here some photos that Donald took on their road trip up and back.  I look a lot like my mom, huh?

We are now all decompressing from the drive down today.  It was a mess.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving Dinner

After driving 10 hours from Oak Ridge, TN to IAD (Dulles International Airport) to pick up Donald, I didn't drive at all yesterday from Washington DC to Bard College in New York.  Donald drove all the way, about 6 hours.

There, we had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner with Jeremy folks and their friends.  It was snowing lightly outside and looked very pretty.

Today, we are going to drive back to Washington DC and I will keep installing some of the safety stuffs in the house that I think it is needed, such as moving sensing lights at entrance, door way & stairs.  And may install more grab bars.

Sunday, I will be back to work.

Sunday, November 23, 2014


Vince went camping with the scouts this weekend.  It got to 15 degrees on Friday night.  Vince forgot his coat at school on Friday and was going to leave for this campout with only a sweatshirt in hand.  I had been bugging Vince all week about underdressing to go to school (shorts/T-shirt) but usually I let that go 99% of the time because 15 minutes in 30 degree weather in shorts isn't going to kill him, but I drew the line at going camping in below freezing weather with a sweatshirt.  I gave him the puffy jacket off of my back and when he got home, he admitted that the coat was very helpful.


Vince has been mucking around in the garage a bunch the past few weeks.  I'm not exactly sure what he is doing, but he seems to be enjoying himself.  Lots of sanding, hammering and spray painting.

He takes his PPE seriously.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Just for Mom

After having a nice dinner for Mom's birthday yesterday, today I am busy with things just for Mom.  

Since Mom hurt her left arm (due to her second fall this year), it is difficult for her to take the straight stairs down.  Of course, she can always use the curvy one instead.  But, just too in-convenient. Therefore, I finished an additional hand rail on the right (Picture I).  

She like to take a bath in the tub, but it is difficult for her to get in.  So, I installed a grab bar for her (Picture II).  

For the shower place, just to be super cautious, I installed a vertical grab bar also (Picture III).

I also replaced all the mats with anti-slippery ones (Picture IV).

Since I am going to remove all wooden boards in her garden, I did buy 30 bags of mulch today as re-placement.  

Suddenly, after I finished all these.  I really think I am old because our house right now is a senior-friendly type with all these bars, mats, etc.

Oh, for two toilets (one in her bath room, one downstairs), I have ordered two hand rails from Amazon two.  They haven't arrived yet.  I probably can put it up next weekend when I come back again.



Happy birthday mom!  Many, many joyous ones more.  Much love, xoxoxo.

Thursday, November 20, 2014


Mom has been coming here for dinner the past few days.  She's trapped in her house because she really can not drive with her bum shoulder.  I'm glad that when I'm as old as my mother and have the same broken shoulder, there will be a car that exists that drives itself (with me in it).

A few days ago, Jeremy bought an amount of kimchi that was larger than the volume of his head.  I do not like kimchi, but Jeremy and Vince are big fans.  I wonder how long it will take them to finish off the whole bucket.

Vince also loves my mom's shrimp and last night we found out why.  It's because she puts an entire bottle of ketchup into the dish.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014



I know compared to some parts of the country, there is nothing to complain about, but it's crazy cold here.  Crazy.  Here's Jeremy dressed up for his morning bike ride to the Metro.  He left and had to come back because he forgot his phone.

This is what fall is suppose to look like:

Tea parties on the back porch.  Bring fall BACK!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Odds / ends.

Look how big Edda is getting!  So toothy in this photo.  Also dressed somewhat like a hipster farmer.  Taken just before heading up for a shower.  Maxi is barking her head off in the background because she's afraid of the big camera with the telephoto lens.  So any photo that you see on this blog in our living room/kitchen/dining room, just imaging loud, insane barking as part of the soundtrack.

Every week I try to fold the clean laundry before Maxi finds the pile and settles down.  I usually fail.  But I try ALL THE TIME.  This is one of my habits that Jeremy finds *slightly* annoying.  What's that? Pulling out an undershirt from the clean pile with ten thousand little black hairs on it is annoying? I am otherwise perfect.  Ha ha!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Apple carving.


Vince didn't get enough of pumpkin carving.  We've moved on to apple carving.  You see Ruby in the background?  She's waiting for the apple core.  She and Maxi fight over apple cores.


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Chinese take-out anyone?

Look carefully for the ping-pong paddle in the fruit bowl.  What the hell?  I don't think we even have a ping-pong table anymore.

My Retirement Plan

Next month, I will enter my 74 years of existence.  I talked to Mom and, finally, come up with a retirement plan.  See how it goes?

Very glad that I will be able to come home next week to see Mom :)  Hopefully, her left arm is getting better.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Home. Hassles.

Jeremy's home.  Good food is back in the house.

Edda's wheelchair is broken.  The left brake doesn't work which means it can't go on the bus.  In order to get this brake fixed, we are entering the dark hole of health insurance reimbursement.  There is a single weirdly shaped plastic washer that is missing from the mechanism.  If it existed and was available at Home Depot, it'd cost 35 cents.  But since it's a custom washer, I'm sure it's $30 + $450 for the visit/repair.  I think it might take us more than six weeks to get it fixed.  I was wondering if we'd have to drive and pick up Edda from school everyday for six weeks.  Luckily, I had forgotten we'd given Edda's school her old stroller to use, so they sent us back her old little one (the one we got when she was 3!) and she squishes into that one to go back and forth on the bus now which is better than nothing.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Clinical. Done.


Here's a photo of my white nurse shoe on my way to the last day of my med/surg clinical.  This is what I saw over the ten weeks I spent in the hospital:

  • A dead body
  • A heart attack
  • A stent placed in a beating heart
  • Inmates (shackled to the bed) seeking drugs
  • Regular folks seeking drugs
  • A stroke with hemiparalysis
  • A GI bleed
  • Irregular heart beats
  • People with end stage kidney disease who don't get dialysis for months because they don't have insurance (that's like not peeing for months).
  • Alcoholics detoxing
  • Poop.  So much poop. The indignities we all will face as we get older.  Nothing like having someone help you poop.  That someone who is helping you is me.  And someday it will be me needing help pooping.  Don't think it won't happen to you.  Stool softeners are your friend.
  • Bariatric patient - took 6 of us to move him.
  • Kindness and unkindness
  • I got to stick tubes in every orifice.  Oh, kind of not fun.  I hope that I get better at that.
I loved most of all my clinical instructor, Alex (amazing and brilliant, I'd bypass the doctor and just have her treat my congestive heart failure) and our little group of nursing students.  One of the many things I love about nursing is the diversity of my coworkers.  Look at this (youngest to oldest):
  • N, female, late 20s, BS Biology, Pakistani, phembotomist
  • D, male, late 20s, BS Information Technology, African-American
  • A, female, late 20s, BS Public Health, African-American 
  • V, female, late 30s, personal trainer, Ukrainian, mom 
  • M, male, late 30s, ex-military - can drive an aircraft carrier, Caucasian, dad
  • S, female, early 50s, middle school math teacher, Jewish, mom
How cool is that?  Totally cool.  And we were tight.  So tight.  That doesn't often happen in randomly assigned groups.

At lunch, on the last day, Alex spent some time sorting us into the specialties that she thought we were best suited for.  She thought carefully and I felt like it was the sorting hat in Harry Potter. People got placed into ICU, ER, shock trauma, and psych.  When she got to me - she thought for a moment and said: pediatrics - and not only pediatrics, but a subspecialty within peds.  Hmmm.  Not what I had been thinking, but it's what so many people have been telling me for years.  I'll have to do my peds rotation at Children's to see if they are right.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Communting to Cambridge.

Jeremy left Wed. morning for a business trip to Harvard.  He packed his bike with his roll-y-suitcase and rode to the Metro.  I did offer him a ride, but he declined.

He took a photo of himself outside Killian Court for me.  A sweetie.  He visits the old stomping grounds way more often than I ever do.

A Duracell :)

Yeah, I would like to pat on my own back for doing all these things in 10 consecutive days.

1.       Friday: after working 6 hours, drove to airport to catch transcontinental flight across the USA (one connection, east first, then all the way from east to west).

2.       Saturday & Sunday: to Home Depot twice to pick up 20 bags (50 lbs each) of wet mulch (rained several days already and still raining); put away all wooden boards on all walkways around the house and replaced them with mulch; cleaning up (by stacking them together) all construction debris of a master bedroom addition ( ~13 ft x 35 ft in size, engineered & sub-contracting by Rena) for earth work, foundation with drainage, radon gas mitigation system (DIY), framing ( vault ceiling, windows, closet, egress windows & door, door for crawl space underneath), siding , roofing with vent holes and electric meter relocation and its box addition; Installed door locks; planted a shrub on sale; buried ~14 feet of exposed new telephone wires (old one severed by electricians by accident, new old couldn’t buried due to debris all over) 6 inches deep; restored 7 feet long fence as well as 3 feet gate attached to it.

3.       Monday: Took transcontinental flight across the USA again with one connection.

4.       Tuesday:  Worked 11 hours.

5.       Wednesday:  Worked 11 hours.

6.       Thursday:  Worked 11 hours.

7.       Friday:  After working 6 hours, drove 10 hours (~ 550 miles) with pit stops only.

8.       Saturday:  did grocery shopping; vacuumed the house; did laundry; replaced all batteries (~20 for fire alarms, AC, remotes, garage door, clocks, etc.) inside the house; cleared the overgrown weeds, shrubs & trees around the house; removed all dwelling & food storage of mice under the car hood (on top of the battery was a nicely built home – very colorful and artistic & should be saved as a whole and input it into a glass enclosure as a house decoration, inside the air intake, on the engine block, etc.); charged the dead car battery; inflated all tires to 30 psi; to Jiffy Lube for oil change on the car driven.

9.       Sunday:  had breakfast with Jeremy, Doris, Vincent & Edda; drove another 10 hours (~ 550 miles) with pit stops only.

10.   Monday: back to regular schedules.

But, at my age (even look healthy), without waking up next morning is also possible J  

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Where are we again, exactly?  Oh yeah, we are at the ortho's office again.  Guess who broke her arm again?  That's right.  My mom.  This is the story of her left arm:

30 years ago, sliced open her finger to the bone on a garbage disposal.
20 years ago, broke her wrist running away from a dog
this spring, broke her elbow rushing to dinner
last week, broke her shoulder gardening

Let's not think about where this is leading.  I told her perhaps she should just get it over with and cut off that poor arm.

It's fine, mom is fine.  No surgery.  No cast.  4-6 weeks of PT to prevent it from freezing up.  Should be good to go.  Good as new.  We are very lucky.

Loves, this is important.

Folks, read: THIS

Possible treatment for Edda.  Not a cure, but a promising treatment.  It's also being studied for Fragile-X and traumatic brain injuries.  It's an already approved drug primarily used to treat long term growth failure in children (IGF-1: insulin-like-growth-factor).  Rumors from Facebook indicate that the families who participated are excited about the results that they saw (improvements in hand use and attention span), but they aren't allowed to talk about it.  Exciting!  And the study was done on older girls, not little, little ones who are prior regression.

Then maybe Edda can get a point or two on inane forms like this that I still have to fill out:


Monday, November 10, 2014


Dad was in town in the am to get the house ready for Mom who came back into town Sunday afternoon.  Jeremy was kind enough to send Dad on his way with a whole roasted chicken.

Sunday evening we went to Eric and Colleen's for Sunday night dinner.  Attendance was down from the usual census, but there was great food and good snobby wine.  

Sunday, November 9, 2014


We went to the celebration dinner of Vince's soccer team on Saturday night.  Jeremy and Edda checked out the BMW i3 electric car we parked next to.

Getting Vince to play any organized sport thing is quite difficult - he just doesn't really like doing it.  We've tried soccer, basketball, swimming, ping pong, gymastics.  All the things. The only way I got him to play this season was because three of his very good friends were already on the team.  They were completely defeated this season and Vince whined a bit before every practice/game, but I think he secretly liked it.

Edda and Jeremy thinking about pizza.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Going away. And coming home.

Jeremy's home.  For a moment or two.  We met up at Meghan's birthday/going away party in DC.  She's joined the foreign service and is going away to her assignment soon.  I'm so excited for her, it sounds like a great adventure.

I drove into DC on a Friday night - this is a huge accomplishment for me.  I won't do it for just anyone.

Thursday, November 6, 2014


This wasn't today.  Whatever day it was, it was beautful.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


We got a little overzealous with the candles at dinner tonight.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Seattle / Portland.

Jeremy's traveling this week.  Left this am.  Back on Friday.  So, as Vince laments, who is going to cook us dinner?  It's going to be a week of fish sticks.  And low vegetable intake.  I used to be better at cooking - and I did do most of the cooking when I was a full time stay-at-home-mom.  But it's not something I'm particularly good at - I can't just rummage through the pantry and whip up something new.  I'm a recipe follower...

Monday, November 3, 2014

Bert is 2!

We headed over to the wilds of Virginia to go to Bert's 2nd birthday party.  Jeremy made his peanut butter cookies which were a big hit.  We admired the amazing birthday cake.  Vickey and I decided this morning that this cake must have taken the cake lady more than 10 hours to make - we thought maybe upwards of 15 hours?  I dunno.  It was beautiful and delicious.

Bert is the cutest 2 year old ever.

Jeremy biked the 50 miles to Vickey's house.  He left the house at 6:30 am and made it there by 10:30 am.  He'd always wanted to ride on a particular trail in Virginia.


I feel like I'm living a lie on this blog.  For more than a decade, I've been documenting what I consider to be what I'm mostly thinking about, what I'm concentrating on, or what is really going on in the family.  What is on the blog these days is NOT AT ALL what is preoccuping myself with.  Snapping a picture and writing a few words about it really freezes something like 30 seconds out of the whole day.  And what does my whole day look like these days?  It looks like a lot of work.  I'm either hunched over my work work.  Or I'm hunched over my school work.  Or I'm going to school work. Or I'm procrastinating - which looks a lot like work work or school work, but really it isn't any work. Besides the crazy work work or school work, there is the incredible clinical work (which I'm playing the most bottom rung role - I get coffee, change sheets, clean people while I'm learning to give meds and provide appropriate interventions when a patient is decompensating in front of me) that just has story after story about death, health, blood, epidemics, obesity, drug abuse, etc, which has just been incredibly moving and stressful and full of humanity that I kind of have to shake my head and clear it every time I leave the hospital.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Work work work.

Vince in the early am.  Doing homework 15 minutes before he leaves for school.  Not the ideal time - IMHO.

He is wearing delicious socks.

Saturday, November 1, 2014


I think this is the year we've outgrown Halloween.  Oh well.  I loved you pumpkin patch, I loved you school parades, I loved you trick-o-treating at twilight.  Vince went to a sleepover last night where they went tricking - trying to scare people.  I hope they didn't throw eggs at people's houses. Edda's last Halloween parade happened.  We still managed a couple of pumpkins on the porch.  The turnout was low.  Maybe 10 groups total....

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


Tonight, I'm going to give Edda a shower and then I'm going to dry her hair.  Then we will snuggle in her bed until she falls asleep.  If I'm industrious, I'll study via youtube videos while I'm in bed with her.  If I'm less industrious, I'll watch a movie on Netflix and fall asleep next to her.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Someday I'm going to have to learn to start an IV.  I want to practice on Jeremy.  Look at these crazy veins.  And he doesn't even have a tourniquet on.

Monday, October 27, 2014


We hosted Sunday night dinner.  We did it the simple way and ordered four large pizzas - cheese, pepperoni, meat lovers and verde.  As the boxes emptied, I gathered them up and headed to the garage to throw them away in the recycling bin.  As soon as I opened the door between the house and the garage, Vince and Bryson rushed up and grabbed the boxes from my hands and told me that they'd be happy to take care of the recycling for me.  I squinted my eyes and asked them what sort of naughtiness they were up to.  They sheepishly admitted that they were using a power drill to impale screws into a plastic dinosaur.  I looked at the dinosaur and reminded them that they really should put on safety glasses.  A couple of safety glasses were promptly found and I left them to their power tool happiness.

Oh the poor dinosaur.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Marine Corp Marathon.

Went downtown to cheer on a friend.

Blew bubbles at the 19 mile mark.

High fives all around.  "Free encouragement!"

Saturday, October 25, 2014

What happened today.


The queen-sized bed we bought a week or so ago was for Edda.  We'd been sleeping with her in a twin sized bed for 10 years.  She's 85 pounds now and takes up a lot of space.  You always ended up with a crick in your neck or your arm would fall asleep.  Now sleeping with Edda, the grown-up gets his/her very own spot!


Jeremy made a PB and J sandwich for his long bike ride this morning.  He managed not to hurt himself (on either the bike ride or making the sandwich) and for that, I'm thankful.


Vince and Edda watching TV.  Edda's cheeks are all red from her hand mouthing now, a sure sign that winter is coming and the air is dry.


Jeremy made hand-pressed hamburgers with tater tots for dinner tonight.  I always think the hand-pressed burgers have too much meat in the patty, so I asked Jeremy to slice my patty along the horizontal axis and I eat only half the burger.  Guess who got the 2nd half?  Why these two well behaved doggies of course.


Friday, October 24, 2014

Good morning.


Good morning Rockville!  I see so many sunrises these days.  It means that I go to bed really, really early.  I'm learning stuff like what to do for: heart attacks, hypotension, asthma attacks, COPD, heart failure, hemolytic blood reactions, hypoglycemia, kidney failure, AIDS, and spinal cord injuries.  I'm dutifully memorizing all the signs and symptoms of all the most commonly seen issues, all the drugs (generic and trade names), all the side effects and the antidotes of the drugs.  I'm able to rattle off all the normal lab values and what happens when the lab values go out of whack.  It's really interesting, but I consider this stuff almost secondary to the other important thing that I'm learning which is to touch people and do a full hands-on head-to-toe assessment: take their pulses and listen to their heart/lungs/belly and then really listen to what they are saying.  This is harder than you think it would be.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Date night.


Date night = Whole Foods + Old Navy.  One of my favorite places to have dinner is Whole Foods.  I like their salad/hot food bar because it seems like everything is possible.  Want to have Chinese food with collard greens?  Or do you want to have quinoa with strawberry cake?  Yummy.  No one else seems to like this idea.  But Jeremy indulged me tonight and took me there.


Then we headed to Montgomery Mall where I tried on many, many leather jackets on behalf of Edda.  We are trying to pull together an Amelia Earhart costume for Edda for Halloween.  I could not find any leather jackets at my favorite price point (eight dollars), but I did find a flowing white scarf for her to wear.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014


I love beets.

What's going on here?  Ummm.  Midterms are over for me.  Halfway done with the term.  Jeremy lost the cookie competition at work.  Heartbreaking.  Vince got his bike stolen at school and spent two hours (during class time ?!?) looking over security camera footage to see if he could find the thief.  No thief found, but the bike was found in the middle of the field on school grounds.  Edda went to Strathmore to see a concert yesterday.  We are eating a lot of vegetables.  Things are well.