Thursday, July 31, 2014

Foundation of Addition Is Done


After excavation, forming, pouring concrete and taking the forms away, the concrete foundation of addition is done.  Far side the foundation of the wall, in the middle are non-load bearing concrete preventing the floor from sagging and squeaking.  The red plastic pipe at the corner are tapping line for hot water.  Look pretty good and Mom is very proud of her managing the work.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


The house is very quiet without Jeremy and Vince.  I think this is the first time that both of them are gone at the same time for days on end.  I have Edda, of course, and we spend lots of time together (mainly getting ready to eat, eating, getting ready for bed and sleeping together), but she's pretty quiet and I've gotten used to the constant jabbering of the male half of the family even though I thought, in the beginning, I would never get used to a very talkative house. The first day they were gone was fantastic - a whole Sunday with nothing to do except to amuse myself which I did do and the hours passed in a slow, aimless way that I enjoyed so much in my early 20s. Now I just wish they were home.  I can't even call them because they are some remote mountain somewhere.  I've been trying to keep busy:

I baked a blueberry/buttermilk cake and a few loaves of banana bread.

Explored the pre-owned bookstore in town.  Never been before.  Bought a book about Rwanda which I'm 90% sure I will never read.

I added a dog to the mix.  Boba is here for the week.  His blindness had progressed since the last time I babysat Boba, the milkiness in his eyes is from his degenerative eye disease.  I think he's fully blind now. He does look possessed.

I hand-repaired some of Edda's bibs while watching a movie a night on Netflix.

I worked with Nat to help her pass her math placement exam at MC.  It's fun digging up all the old math rules that I've forgotten.  I do wish could do all the problems without looking stuff up, but when you don't practice everyday, the trig functions slip through your fingers.  And Nat is a quick study.  I show her once and she understands.  I can start with OK, you have a unit circle and this is 0, this is pi and this is pi/4 and she gets it.  Sometimes when you try to teach someone, you start with that sentence and you just get a blank stare and then you have to back up even more and then it becomes apparent that you are not going to get there from here within the 4 days that you have to study.

Boba's mom lent me this wooden puzzle, do you see the pieces are amazingly shaped?  I like to imagine that I'm putting it together, but I don't think I will actually even start to do this puzzle.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Edda's summer at Camp JCC has been fabulous and it's all because of Kara.  Take a look!

Edda + Kara selfies.  Absolutely made my day to get these photos in my inbox.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Iowa - Rockville - Gila, NM

Jeremy came home from Iowa at 4pm Saturday.  Look at this photo!  Button-down shirt with tie (+ nametag) in the middle of a corn field.  Funny.

Nice flower photo, Jeremy.

He took the new Silver Line home from Dulles which opened that day. There were some very exicited public transportation fans (other than Jeremy) riding the brand new line.

When he got home at 4pm, he started packing for a backpacking trip to Gila, NM.

At 5 am on Sunday (a mere 13 hours after he arrived home), we all tumbled into the minivan and delivered Jeremy and Vince to BWI.  Edda and I trundled home and took a nap.  By the time I had made breakfast for myself and fed Edda breakfast and had the dishes cleaned and put away, the boys had made it to El Paso.  Then onto a train from El Paso to Deming, NM.

Finally to Gila where it is surprisingly green.  They headed off this morning - hiking into the cellular-free wilderness.  They will come out on Friday.  Edda and I are furiously decluttering the house before they get home.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Forrest Gump.

Edda has a molar growing on the inside of the regular tooth line.  It's on the upper left side and it's coming out in her palate.  We tried pretty hard to prevent it from happening (the middle baby molar fell out early) but the spacer wouldn't hold on her other baby molars, so the space closed and then the tooth came out in her palate.  Our regular dentist recommended pulling it out, but wanted us to consult with the orthodontist that she works closely with to see what his opinion would be.  I went yesterday and he said that we should just leave it alone.  That if we ever needed to put Edda under for other dental work (which I'm sure we will have to someday), we can pull it out then.

I came home to find Vince watching Forrest Gump.  It's one of my favorite movies and it came out during the summer between college and grad school where I worked at the front desk of my dorm sorting mail and hung out at the coffee shop and spent a lot of time doing nothing.  It was the Forrest Gump/Pulp Fiction (which was a great movie too, but I'm not sure Vince is ready to see that one yet) summer.

My kiddos watching the movie with me.

Construction On Addition, U Street

This weekend, I arrived home Thursday night around mid-night.  Next morning, I woke up to find an excavation on the side of our garage.  On Saturday, foundation people put concrete form up for pouring concrete on Monday, right after scheduled city inspection.  Pictures 1-3 show the forming from front, side and back.  In the second picture, brown ply wood with metals on it is for loading bearing wall.  The middle wood structure with light color is just a pile strip concrete for floor additional support - no load bearing just preventing sagging and/or squeaking.  The blue line on the wall is the elevation of our additional floor.  Two tapping water lines, one for hot, one for cold, are on the wall as well as two drain lines.

While the workers working on the form, I leveled the 3-post structure with screen for vines (picture 4).  It is pretty leveled as shown, I think.  I used the car jack to jack it up temporarily while digging deeper holes for its posts. Spent all morning just doing that.  After, I cleared more blackberries bushes for Mom to plants her stuffs.

Mom is managing all these activities.  And after outside is done, she and I will work inside ourselves. Hopefully, it will get completed within two years, or may be three years, no rush.

Saturday, July 26, 2014


In one evening, Vince made broccoli for the family and labeled everything in the kitchen.

Friday, July 25, 2014


Vince is spending the week at a fishing camp.  It's a week-long day camp, but they have one overnight camp-out.  The bus stop is at our local 7-11.  Vince revels in telling me everyday what interesting thing he has found in the store.  They sell something which appears to be a fried cheese nugget dusted with Dorito flavoring.   This 7-11 is right next to the spot where the old Blockbuster was where I spent countless hours with my high school friends deciding on what movie to rent.  And no, we did not get to eat any of the caught fish.  Strictly catch and release.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Odds and ends.

Jeremy is in Iowa this week.  That's where the corn is and he follows the corn crop around.  I never thought he would know so much about agriculture.  He tells me that it's a bumper crop this year.  This is the text he sent me within hours of landing in Iowa - a candied bacon sundae (and his colleague, Josh, but really, the star is the the ice cream).


I'm starting to pull together all the information for fall classes in nursing school.  I'm starting clinicals this fall, so I needed to get a background check and drug screening done.  I'm not a felon!  Nor do I have any illicit drugs in my system!  I still need to get my TB test done.


Edda got sent home again for lice.  After she got home, I recieved the camp-wide email alert which said that lice has been found and to look after your children's heads.  A little embarrassing.  She was generally happier than the photo below shows as we spent a good part of the afternoon treating and combing through her hair.

Now we are just going to comb her hair every morning before camp.  I bought a handful of lice combs so we can all comb together - a family activity. It is not unusual to find me, Vince, and Nat at 8 am combing through Edda's hair while Edda laughs and laughs.  A friend called me and recommended the lice lady - a very nice person who comes to your house to delouse a head for $200.  We are not there yet.  But I'm not above calling the lice lady if we are at our wits end.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Talking shop.

What Jeremy wants to talk about all the time is his work.  I used to do this terrible thing where at bedtime, I'd ask Jeremy to talk about some work issue and he would get all excited and talk for 20-30 minutes without stopping and I'd gently fall asleep to the rythmn of his voice and the fact that I didn't understand any of it past the second sentence.  Then he couldn't go to sleep because he'd be all excited about work.  To be fair, I don't do this anymore, it's a little mean and self-serving.

There are only a handful of people in the world who know what Jeremy works on in enough detail for Jeremy to have a truly satisfying conversation about policy.  Jim is one of these people.  OMG, the policy chat over pizza and ice cream - the two of them were happy all evening long.

U Street Addition Started

Before our Turkey trip, Rena has obtained the construction permits from our City Hall.  Today, the beginning phase of our addition started - excavation.

After that, I guess, Rena will follow up with foundation, framing, electric work & roofing.  I guess all other interior stuffs we can do ourselves.

Stay tune.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Going away party.

Drew moved away yesterday.  Vince really wanted to throw a going away party for him.  Twelve hours before he was slated to pull out of his driveway for the last time, Vince hosted a twelve boy party for Drew.  I guess we actually hosted, but it was all his idea.

It was really, really hard to get all the boys to stand still and pose for a good photo.  I tried.

A lot of the time the boys were like this:

I baked a cake for this party.  From scratch.  It was an excellent cake, but I don't think any of the boys noticed or appreciated the from-scratch-ness of it.  I'm so proud of this cake.  Layers and everything!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Wizard of Oz.

Edda was in the Wizard of Oz last night.  I love Camp JCC.  It gives Edda the opportunity to participate in just regular summer fun.  Kara, her inclusion counselor, does a great job of including Edda in the swirl of the action.  I know Edda is having a great summer and it's all beacuse of Kara's hard work and attention.

It was an evening performance, Edda was a little overwhelmed - but she pulled it off.  And we all had a great time.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Zero bars.

For your viewing pleasure.  Vince's video masterpiece from computer camp a few weeks ago.  First is the trailer and second is the actual movie.  I just love that all the kids in this movie (except for the dark-haired girl) live within 2 miles of each other and have grown up together.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Capitol Hill reception.

UCS's new president:

Jeremy's work had a Hill reception last night to introduce their new president to "Washington" - a debut of sorts.  The organizer of the event asked if someone could take photos at this event and Jeremy, very cleverly, volunteered me.

Because Nat was still on vacation, I could only do this event if Jeremy took care of Edda so I attended this UCS event without Jeremy.  It had complicated logistics involving a camp pick-up and meeting on the street corner at Union Station and a heavy reliance on Google Maps.  I'm so impressed with Google Maps.  DC was grid-locked with traffic and Google Maps took me in some round-about way avoiding all the accidents and traffic tie ups and major freeways and put me at Union Station in less than an hour.

This is a classic photographic set-up - a set-up which I never find myself in. A dark room, no windows.  People milling around eating finger-food.  It's pretty hard to make it look interesting in photographs since nothing really interesting is happening.   But I did what I could.

Here's an important person:

And another important person:

Finally, a few more important people:

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


Vince and Sophie in a galvanized tub.  Best way to cool off this hot summer.

Monday, July 14, 2014

I am the luckiest.

I am the luckiest.  I'm learning to hold two contradictory feelings in my hand at the same time and have it be OK. I've always wanted something to be one thing or another which I'm learning is never really so.  Without Rett Syndrome (unlucky) I would have never met these wonderful women (lucky!).  They are part of my everyday and I'm forever grateful.  Jeremy was kind enough to cook us a delicious dinner - he and Edda were honorary members of girls night in.

One of my favorite things to do is to do something with someone that they love to do.  I'll do anything at least once if it's your favorite thing ever.  Genealogy, stamp collecting, hockey games - all of it's a lot of fun if you are with someone else who loves it to pieces.  Marta loves, loves, loves makeup - so we set up some lights and admired her huge makeup collection and then had her do all our faces.  Makeup is foreign territory for me, I didn't even wear any makeup at my wedding.

I wish I got a photo of my face (which I loved and Marta told me was an everyday look), but it was late, I was a little tipsy and the photo was forgotten...  Next time.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Mom off to Washington State.

Dropped off mom at BWI on Saturday.  She did great during the few weeks of PT that she managed to get through here in DC.  Flexion is pretty much full range of motion - as for extension, she's got only about 10 degrees to go.  Headed to the West Coast.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Rena Back to U Street

After long trips, Rena finally reached our home at U Street, Washougal, WA.

Oak Ridge, TN & Toilet Tank Size

Oak Ridge, TN has one of our Nation's top labs.  Yet, it seems to me, these Federal supports don't translate into its wealth.  I guess, the majority of people work here probably stay in Knoxville instead.  Knoxville is very close to here.  But, even at Knoxville, the in-bound and out-bound air traffic are pretty limited.  Sometimes, the air ticket from here to Washington DC is more expensive that for the cross country.

People here are nice and very friendly.  But, social fabrics here is quite different than those in Washington DC.  The money here is much, much useful than those in Washington DC.  And there is no production work in Washington DC,  Here, at least, we produce materials for the security of our nation.  All Washington does is solely paper work and re-distributes the wealth of our nation. Of course, it retains the best part for herself first and then distributes the remaining parts to those people being taxed to its limits.

I heard the other day, someone gets an outrageous university speaking fee which probably is many times more than the average people earned yearly.  How true it is that as Ronald Reagan said "Government is the problem, not the solution"

Big government is even worse.  Big means that it digs in deeper to our daily activities.  It treats its citizens as uninformed masses.  It legislates everything possible.  It regulates our water heater with an extra expansion tank.  As far as I can tell, the old one without expansion tank is just working fun.  But, certainly, it is less safer than the new one - theoretically.  But, the installation cost is double.  What if I just don't have the money to do it.

Believe me or not, it even regulates our toilet tank size.  With smaller size, I flush at least three times more than the grand old one - much bigger yet just flush once.  In the end, which one actually saves water?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Vince back from camp.

Vince spent a week at American University going to computer camp.  He managed to convince 7 of his pals to join him, so camp was like a big 5 day sleepover with his best friends.

Here's his counselor, Scoop.  They all have clever nicknames, so Scoop's real name is forgotten.

Two of his pals - Owen and Bryson.

They signed up for movie making.  I'm hoping to post some of the movies on the blog soon.  His counselor spent a minute talking about special qualities of each kid at the closing presentation, so this was Vince's.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Photographer for hire.

Every few months, Jeremy asks me to take some photographs for some work thing.  They are very strange photo assignments - sometimes involving our minivan, other times involving Elizabeth Warren.  Yesterday's assignment was taking photos involving ice cream and an electric vehicle charger.

Edda was not impressed.

We ordered so much ice cream that it wasn't necessary to have dinner afterwards.  This electric chargine station is located a two minute walk from the house.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Nat and Nay.

Nat's sister, Nay, is here for a few weeks.  They are taking off tomorrow for a week-long vacation up and down the East Coast.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


Jeremy bought a new bike on Saturday. On Sunday, he flipped himself over the handlebars, chest-first into a creek.  Got a bunch of cuts all up and down his front and his arm.   Really?  That quickly?  He's fine.  Thank goodness.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Home and off again.

Vince came home from Sweden on Thursday and we had crab for dinner on Saturday.

Then he headed off to camp on Sunday.  I hope to see him a little bit this summer.  Maybe next week.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Old photos.

We spent part of the weekend going through Bob and Gene's old family photos and annotating them on the back.  We should digitize them, but it's one of those things that never floats to the top of the to-do list.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Our Farm

This July 4th long weekend, I am in town with Rena.  On July 4th, we decided to go to our farm and see our neighbors there.

One of our neighbors, while working in a local grocery store, he raises a lot chicken, ducks, etc.  We bought three dozens of eggs from him.  Besides, he would like to give us a frozen chicken of his own.  We decides to pay him.  Two large bags of frozen chickens, only $10.00 dollars total.

The other neighbor in front us is retired with his wife.  They have a log house which is pretty modern.  The other neighbor at back raises turkeys for big cooperations.  He just raises them for several days in between. I guess in the mid life of a turkey.  His turkey barn can't be accessed by ordinary people.  They must be sanitized beforehand.

We seldom see them.  But, our neighbors love to hunt in our farm in the fall with our permission.  I looked at those trees, they can be harvested at any time.  Probably will do that while I am retired.

Happy July 4th.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Bert bert.

Bert and I hung out a few days ago.  I want so much for him to like me.  I did manage to, after a three hour visit, convince him to hold my hand (really, my index finger) and walk around the house with me. Oh, he also did give me a few high-fives.  He was not keen on a piggy-back ride.  Maybe next time.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Celebrating July 4th

Rena and I decide to celebrating our July 4th holiday by visiting our farm.  Rena would like to harvest some matured trees there.  I have a kind of wait-and-see altitude.  Because with extra income of harvesting, it certainly will not help us on our bottom lines of taxing.

Btw, China is pretty bad as far as World Cup is concerned.  With so many people and so much resources, China can't even produce a World Cup qualified team of dozens.  I believe they just got into once.

The real picture is with all this greed, corruption, fixing the game by players, coaches, organizers and gangs, etc.  I think they should fire every one involved right on the spot.  Strange enough, the government there can almost do everything that one can think of.  But, just can't fix her foot ball problem.

Even more funny is that those teams get qualified, many of them are from under developed and developing world too.  There, government is in pretty bad shape too.  A huge excuse, may be, football genes are not in our blood :)

Oh, I remember one thing.  Once, my Dad questioned my poor score on math.  I, in turn, asked him about his math scores.  Guess what I got beat up pretty badly.  Luckily, it happened many years back.  Or, a child abuse case might be filed by those more modern folks.

Summer - home repair.

Fixing dimmer switches:

Rehabbing the diswasher (so gross, all this old food clogging up everything):

Cleaning the garage:

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

World Cup.

I found myself at a bar for the US/Belgium game.  I never watch any sports.  I don't understand the rules for soccer, especially when the game is thrown into overtime.  I didn't know anyone else at the bar - but it was kind of exhilarating.  So much screaming, stomping, cheering and groaning.