Sunday, August 31, 2014

New car.

Our Volvo, which we bought when Vince was less than a year old, has been dying a slow, expensive death.  Two years ago, the check engine light went on and refused to turn off no matter how much money I gave my mechanic.  Because the check engine light was on, the car could never pass emissions (nor could Nat use it to take her driving test).  But I kept getting extensions on the emissions testing and hoped that one day the check engine light would magically turn off on its own.

Then my mechanic mentioned that if I spent more than $450 on repairs to get the car to pass emissions, then I could get an emissions "waiver".  After hearing this information, I went with my repair receipts in hand and got my waiver and kept driving the car with the check engine light on - never really "passing" emissions testing.  No matter that Jeremy spends his professional life trying to tighten emissions regulation and get cleaner cars and fuels on the roads so we can all breath cleaner air and stop that small thing - global warming.

Then about two months ago, the muffler/catalytic converter failed and the car sounded like a Harley motorcycle.  It would have been $1500 to repair with my mechanic cautioning that it might be another $500 on top of that once he got it all apart and could see the guts.  It was so loud, our neighbors thought we had converted the car to diesel.  Now I could smell that the car was spewing exhaust - a "high emitter" in the parlance of car regulation.

OK, now it was truly embarrassing I was driving this broken, exhaust spewing car around.  Finally, we traded the car in this weekend for a Honda Civic hybrid.  It's very quiet and does not smell like exhaust and the check engine light has not yet turned on.  We drove a Civic before we had kids and it feels so much the same, we can imagine like we are kids again.  Edda is having a tough time napping in it as she slides over.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Ruth and squid ink spaghetti.

Ruth, one of my most faithful and long-time blog readers, visited us a few weeks ago.  I write the blog for our parents and to keep up my photography interest, but I do pick up a few other readers here and there.  I feel badly that I didn't post her picture on the blog, my only excuse being that it was a rushed and hurried and somewhat somber visit.  So I am trying to make amends by showing pictures of the squid ink spaghetti she brought all the way from LA for us.  We ate it for our anniversary dinner - thank you, it was delicious (Vince and a pal of his even tried it and liked it!) and I'm sure the 16th anniversary is the "pasta" anniversary, right?

Or else it's the "beer" anniversary.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Swollen ankle & getting old together.

Jeremy fell (again) on a trail bike ride this past Sunday.  Again, the wounds seemed superficial - a bruised spot below the rib, a scrape on the inner right ankle where his foot slipped from the pedal and hit the exposed skin.  He did calisthenics on Monday without problem.  On Tuesday, he decided to bike to work.  It's about a 20 mile ride and he left at 6:30 am.  The ride was uneventful and not painful; he was having fun and going fast.  Then I got a text from him at 11am saying that the bike ride was not such a good idea.  His ankle was swollen and it hurt to even walk.  The Tuesday ride to work must have aggravated something that he had more deeply injured on Sunday. He's been downing ibuprofen and icing it.  Poor guy, he's a bundle of injuries right now.


Today is our 16th wedding anniversary.  It's been a long time.  So much happens in 16 years, lots of good stuff.  Lots of bad stuff.  Mostly just regular stuff.  I got married when I was 25 and, of course, I just didn't really know what I was getting myself into.  The trick to the whole thing is to think that you are the lucky one in the relationship.  That (thank god!) you found someone to put up with your shit with humor and laughter and will gently call you out on the crap that you do and also support you when you need the help even when you think you don't need help.  Jeremy told me this morning that he thinks he's the lucky one, but trust me on this: I'm the lucky one.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

All about that bass.

This is what we are dancing to here in the Lee/Martin household.  The first day of school was yesterday and it wasn't all about that bass, it was all about the shoes.  Middle school is about the shoes - forget algebra and no-vegetable lunches, everyone just wants basketball shoes.  While we were in Portland, we did make it to the Nike outlet where Vince and got a pair of basketball shoes.  Donald told us the most incredible Nike store is the employee store where all the merchandise is the latest/greatest with a sweet 50% discount to go along with it, but we didn't get to go to the mecca of basketball shoes because that ship has sailed.

Going to school was fine and exciting (violin strapped to the back, now that's cool).

Coming home was another story.  Vince was surprised and overwhelmed with the amount of work and also upset that the summer math and reading packets were actually due on the first day of school.'s always a tough wake up call for Vince - the actual working and studying part of school.  But today was much better, homework done early and cheerfully and he's looking forward to working in the school store in the mornings.

Edda was so excited Sunday night when we talked about school the next day.  She smiled when I told her that Ms. Carmen was going to pick her up in the morning and that Ms. Maureen would be thrilled to see her after a long summer away.

Nat put her hair in a beautiful first-day-of-school braid.

Sunday, August 24, 2014


Edda had a few visitors last week right after we got home from vacation.  Eliana (au pair #2) came to visit with her mother.  I got to tell Eliana's mom, in person (although not in Spanish), how much we loved having Eliana take care of the kids.  Eliana got to show her mom her room (thank you Nat for letting them into your room). They were headed to the beach right after their visit.  Since Eliana visited us so frequently after she moved back home and now lives in the US, she is the au pair that has really gotten to see the kids grow up.  She started working for us when Edda started kindergarten and Edda's starting 5th grade tomorrow - her last year of elementary school.

Izzy also came by the same day to visit Edda.  Izzy was Edda's JCC inclusion counselor #3 and she managed to squeeze in a visit with us right before she headed back to Indiana U.  Edda relaxed and fell asleep in her arms.  So sweet.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

This is it. The vacation recap.

I now know that I could never be a person who travels extensively for work. The jet lag, even coming from just the west coast, just kills me for days. Only Edda has rebounded nicely from the time change. She was extremely pleased with herself at 4 am this morning and indicated this by laughing loudly and repeatedly standing on the floor next to her bed and then sitting on my sleeping head, but the rest of us are forcing ourselves awake an hour earlier every day to meet the 7 am School Is Starting! deadline on Monday morning.

I'm procrastinating by going through the vacation photos.  Somehow the need to clean the house doesn't inspire getting up from this chair.  Here we go!

First, Vince and Edda flew us to Seattle in a very old Boeing plane.

Took the cars across a body of water on a ferry.  It was windy.  Seattle did live up to it's cloudy reputation.  I don't think you see the sun in any of these photos - but cloudy days make the best photos!

We stayed in a number of places with beautiful lodges in the Olympic National Park.  The common areas were quite beautiful.  The rooms that we stayed in were very basic (no TV, no Internet).


We managed to find BBQ in Forks, WA to have a picnic lunch.  Forks, we learned, is the setting for the Twilight series.

Ruby beach and the Pacific Ocean.

Lake Quinault where my mother found blackberries next to the hiking trail.

All of us at the foot of the world's largest sitka spruce.

Everything was so green.  Love the green.

Walking near Mt. Rainier.

44th Wedding Anniversary

Yesterday, it was quiet time to celebrate our 44th wedding anniversary - had a simple restaurant dinner together, baked, sliced and enjoyed our candles-less anniversary cake (an orange cake) quietly - also, laying the radon pipes for the addition, installing a medicine cabinet for Rena's bedroom, buying a large bag of pot soils.  And, Rena, as usual, was busy watering, tending and harvesting her veggies.

All these years, luckily with Rena by my side, we just like most families which have had many ups and downs.  But, in general, our lives are pretty normal and typical which is good, I think.

Best of all, we are relatively healthy and that is is a huge blessing.  It is also nice to know that Doris and Donald are on their own.  And to watch Vincent & Edda grow without shouldering any burden of "education" is also very enjoyable.  It short, it is nice to be a healthy grand mom and grand pa.  To be a mom and pa, sometimes, can be very difficult :)

Happy Anniversary!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Lake Crescent.

We are back from vacation. We spent most of the time on the Olympic Peninsula outside of Seattle which is a temperate rain forest.  Coming from DC, I found it cool and refreshing.  Coming from SF, Donald found it terribly humid.  It was beautiful and relaxing as you saw in my father's posts. But no matter how wonderful a vacation is, it is always nice to get back home and fall into the regular routine again. We are back at work. Edda had an open house at her school this morning that we missed because I've been failing to check email or phone messages for two weeks. Vince is frantically doing his summer packets due on Monday (which I have been reminding him all summer to do which resulted in the standard number of sighs and eye rolls back at me). We are trying to pull together school supplies, soccer cleats, schedules and paperwork. I took almost a thousand photos on vacation and I'm not sure which ones to post, but I'll start (and maybe end because life continues on and who wants to look at 2-week-old vacation photos?) with my favorite series of photos on the dock of Lake Crescent. It was cold and I did not plunge in myself, but these two did it over and over again to the dismay of all the sweatshirted tourists on the dock.  Happy end of summer y'all!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

All Back Home Again

Yesterday (8/20, Wednesday), everyone left Washougal, WA, except Rena and me.  Sunday, I am going to leave too.  Therefore, Rena will be the only one here.  However, 2 weeks later, I will be back for a short, weekend visit.

The day before yesterday, I saw Vincent hided in our Study alone doing his own things.  When asked, he said that with all these days together, elbow-to-elbow, he had a lot of fun.  But, still, he likes to have some quiet time alone.  How true is it?  Indeed, Rena and I are very glad to see them all coming.  But, also, very glad to see them all leaving.  But, after their departures, we feel a bit lost yet still look forward for the next family re-union.  And, hopefully, our family size will be bigger slightly.

The night before their departures, we held a family meeting.  Vincent was included.  In it, we congratulated ourselves and each other about our re-union and Jeremy was elected unanimously as our "Family Travel Agent" to plan for the next one, next year.

Of course, we had a lot of laundries to do.  Dishes to wash.  Floor to be vacuumed.  Clean-up to do and put everything back to where it belongs, as we prefer.  And, above all, fortunately, we had a chance to do all these. Better to do something like these than not be able to do anything.

As Vincent's, Rena and I would also like to have some quiet time alone.  Therefore, we are going to celebrate our 44th anniversary on Friday (8/22) alone - a precious, quiet time just for ourselves.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Family Re-union, Pacific Northwest, III

Sister, brother and Mt. Rainier, all there & smiling.

Family Re-union, Pacific Northwest II

Yesterday, we left Mt. Rainier and drove back to Washougal, WA.  Tomorrow, Jeremy, Doris, Vincent, Edda and Donald are leaving for Washington DC and San Francisco.  Time really flies.

Picture 1 is the two cabins that we stayed at Lake Crescent.  Picture 2, Donald helps Edda to walk along the lake shore of Quinault Lake.  Jeremy, Doris and Edda on the Ruby Beach, WA along US route 1 are shown in Picture 3.  Picture 4, Rena enjoys her boat ride in Lake Quinault with her long time boy friend and husband.  Picture 5 is the family boat guide tour in Quinault Lake.  Vincent Posts a picture with Mr. Rainier in Picture 6.  And Donald says hello to everyone is in the last picture.

In short, Jeremy is a good planner and we have had fun together.  And, we are planning for more family re-union gatherings.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Family Re-union, Pacific Northwest

This Tuesday, we started our family reunion tour in Seattle, WA.  First, we visited the Boeing Factory and posted for a reunion picture.  Edda looks like someone asked her to be a test pilot.

After that, we took the ferry and went east toward Olympia National Park.  We have stayed at Crescent Lake, Sol Duc Hot Spot and Quinault Lake. After two nights here, we are heading to Mt. Rainier, Washougal.  We have had good time together. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Parking cars.

Why are we so busy this weekend?  Well, it's because we are parking cars at the MoCo fair.  We meaning Jeremy, me and Vince.  (Edda somehow gets a pass on this.)  This isn't valet parking, it's directing traffic in a large grassy field - finding empty spaces and getting cars in and out as efficiently as possible.  The scouts run the show.  As they get older, they get more responsibility so by the time they are seniors in high school, they are dispatching crews and ordering adults around.  The scouts themselves are suppose to work at least 35 hours during the fair, but a lot of them want to work way more hours than that because it's kind of fun for them. They get to hang out with their pals all day and eat fair food and actually tell people what to do.

Grown ups have to put in 40 "family" hours.  They put the grown ups in critical spots - those spots where you have a greater chance of being run over, which is what I felt like I was doing all day - that is, on the verge of being run over.

The scouts have done this for 60 years and it's because they get paid handsomely for their services.  In turn, we have no dues, no selling crap, no paying for camping fees.  Therefore, I have reframed this experience from "OMG, I can not believe that I'm parking cars in the hot, hot sun." to "I'm so glad I get to park cars so that I don't have to sell popcorn to raise funds."  So much pleasure can be derived from reframing things this way.  I have turned my car flag-waving duties into performance art in which each oncoming car is a brand new audience to win over.  I actually have a little dance routine which culminates into the instruction "turn right".  I'm usually rewarded about every third car with a thumbs up, or a smile or some funny comment.  All the kiddos in the backseat wave hello.  Time passes quickly.

We also get to catch up with the parents of Vince's friends.  Here's David, professional video/photographer - trying to get me to use flash and shoot in RAW and do post-processing.  Sounds like a lot of work.  I acknowledge that I'm only half a photographer - I take the photos and I download them and put them on this blog.  I don't crop, I don't edit and I don't curate.  Am I a real photographer?  Maybe.  Maybe not.

Family Re-union Prelude

Just two days before our family re-union in the Pacific Northwest, Rena and I hosted a small college classmates re-union.  We went to Skamania Lodge to have a brunch together.  Rena was the only girl student among all these boys, including these three in the picture.  The one on the far left at the back was a higher-up Ford Executive when retired many years ago.  The lady on the right was a Boeing Fellow before her retirement 6 years ago.  

We had fun and look forward to have our own family re-union.  Can't wait.

Saturday, August 9, 2014


I'm pet sitting this weekend.  Two dogs, three cats and two rats.  It's more animal than I'm used to but that's OK because - OK I can't think of a reason that it's OK, but it's really OK.  We are extremely busy this weekend, so these poor guys are getting the minimalist treatment so I hope they forgive me.  Their parents won't be gone very long.   I'm thankful that I don't have to take care of the snake, lizard, frog and fish that they have as well.  Whew!

Bacon shirt.

Thanks for the shirt(s) Strickers!  Chemistry + Meat = Delicious!

Thursday, August 7, 2014


Tomorrow is the last day of camp for Edda.  So tonight Edda was in the Suessical musical and she was fabulous.  It can be an unpredictable time for Edda as it's close to her bedtime, but she did great - walking across the stage in her purple shirt.  During the performance, she lost a shoe and always wanted to exit stage left, but Kara handled it all with grace and style.

Here we are post-performance with Kara and one of Edda's castmates who could not resist posing in a photo with us.

Thank you Kara for a wonderful summer!!  (Jeremy is making chicken noises.  Edda often will laugh a a good chicken impersonation.)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Odds and ends.

Signed up for my first clinicals today! Thurs and Fri at Shady Grove Hospital.  Excited...


Matching bracelets:

Making dinner:

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Sleeping Edda.

We've moved Edda's OT to Saturdays for the summer.  She's usually too exhausted from camp to see Deb afterwards during the weekdays.  I don't have a set time on Saturday, I just wait for cancellations and Deb'll email me last minute.  Because Nat usually doesn't work on the weekends, I get to hang out with Deb for an hour on Saturday while we encourage Edda to move blocks with her hands or play piano keys.  I love spending some time with Deb since I so rarely get to see her during the school year.  This Saturday, Edda was sound asleep when I pulled into the parking lot so the first 15 minutes of the session involved me and Deb chatting out in the middle of the parking lot and gently nudging Edda to wake up from her nap - hoping for cheerful Edda instead of grumpy Edda - you never know who you are going get when she wakes up.

Botanic Garden

Nearby my apartment and my office, there is an University botanic Garden.  It is pretty neat and quiet.  I should spend some weekend walking around.

The other day, I just walked about 30 minutes.  Too bad, Mom isn't here.  Or, it is a nice spot to walk together.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Bad Things Hard to Get Rid Off

Back in February, I was in my attic dealing with raccoon.  I got rid off them, but my left leg was hurt and showed up two days later, very difficult to move.  It took me about 6 months to recover.  Now, I still have some minor problems using my left leg.  6 weeks ago, I caught something and coughed a lot.   After two rounds of antibiotics medicine, I still have some minor cough.  Really, I think I am getting pretty senior and recovering very slowly.  At least, not the speed that I would like to have.

Surprisingly, at work, I don't think I have slowed down a bit.  I still have the memory that I had while I was in my 50s, of course, not at 20s or 30s.  May be, I have done a lot similarly things and find easier ways to do it. May be, I am much more relax and know the tricks just to stay half step ahead of the critical path.  But, I lost my ability to track numerous things without notes.  Now, it is notes, notes everywhere.

Sunday, August 3, 2014


My boys are back in town and the house is settling back into its normal routine.  I'm going to include some photos from the hiking trip and I can't add too much commentary since I wasn't there.  The other boy in the photos is named Hawk.  Three nights and four days!  10,000 ft altitude.  Vince carrried his pack the whole way.

Friday, August 1, 2014

The main reason to get married.

Now I'm a little obsessed that I have lice.   I have 12 paws and an abundance of repetitive, purpose-less hand motions in the house right now.  But no one is capable of flitting through my greying hair to see if I have any nits.  So I'm scratching a little and trying not to think about it too much.

Coming home!

Jeremy and Vince are out of the wilderness!  I got a call from them yesterday evening.  They reported that the trip was fantastic.  They went with some neighbors of Kiki's, including a 12-year-old named Hawk and everyone got along well.  Everyone will be home tomorrow which is wonderful for me and wonderful for Edda.  I wish I could have gone.  I wish Edda could have gone.  Per the Rolling Stones, you can't always get what you want. But! If you try sometimes, you find, you get what you need. Which is fine and true.


I went to lunch yesterday with a friend who works at NIH.  She works in a lab with chemicals and pipettes.  Even though I love labwork in theory, I can't imagine working in a lab anymore.  It's a little too unstructured and slow for me.

I have another friend who is a nurse at NIH doing clinical trials.  She's trying to encourage me to work there when I graduate.  No emergencies, no late night, last minute admissions.  Low patient to nurse ratio.  The campus is very college-like - even down to the numbering of the buildings - although I think that even though we called all the buildings by number in college, they didn't actually have the numbers boldly affixed to the exterior.

We have been combing Edda's hair every morning.  Diligently.  Obsessively.  I do see little sticky white things at the crown of her head which get worse with the combing and the pesticide treatment that I'm applying weekly.  I did get a call from the nurse yesterday from camp saying they found a nit.  I really had to tell them that I'm doing my most impressively perfectionist effort to get Edda rid of lice.  No one else in the family has lice - I even sleep right next to Edda night after night, temple to temple.  I had to even state that the AAP states that no child should miss school because of nits.  I can't tell if they are nits (I don't think they are as they are worse when we scratch her scalp) or are little impostors (which I'm leaning towards) that are out to ruin whatever sanity I have left.  Not only does it mess with me mentally, but really?  Physically, I'm at the edge of my vision capabilities and my eyes can not really see something so small so early in the morning.  Now head lice are gross but transfer no illnesses.  Body lice, on the other hand (I found out yesterday), transfer typhus.  Now that would totally freak me out.

Copy Cats

A lot of our friends, especially those of our college mates (more than 150 and, of course, all seniors), learn that we try to have a family-reunion every year, they are jumping in and doing exactly the same thing - to have a family re-union.  It just like wildfire spreading very fast.

But, I guess, most credits should go to all participants.  Our half (1/3) is easy, Mom and I are retired or semi-retired.  The other half (2/3) isn't that easy.  Understandably, their schedules are more than full and, may be, they have other interesting/urgent things to do.  And/or, they enjoy things that seniors may not. Therefore, I guess, when arranging the re-union, a lot of behind the scene compromises are made.  To that, Mom and I are very much aware.

In short, Mom and I look forward to having family re-union every year and appreciate your companionship.

$2.99 Breakfast

At Oak Ridge, TN, a local Krystal fast food restaurant promotes $2.99 breakfast which includes, a cup of medium size coffee, two toasts, two eggs, sausage and three pieces of hash browns.  They even place your order to your table.  Not bad and very good service.

It depends on my glucose level, I should come back often :).