Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Easter celebrations.

I keep forgetting that it's Easter/Passover this week.  Vince has found my stash of cascaron eggs and has been breaking them over unsuspecting sisters inside the house.  He never does this in front of me, I just find confetti and colored egg shells in various places all over the house (or hair).

Jeremy's still gone, but Vince has taken over making dinner.  It's very meat-centric and it's delicious.   He made homemade French fries, although it was only one potato.  So only like 10 fries.

Fun in Japan

It's been a bit of a whirlwind trip so far. Done a lot of walking around and train riding. 

We are staying in Osaka for a couple days and using that as a base of operations. Sakura season is in full effect and the Japanese are definitely out in droves to see the blossoms that last for only two weeks or so. It's strange seeing business people in suits sitting under a cherry tree picnicking, but alas, it's what happens. The other sartorial comment that I have is that Japan is, apparently, the land of trenchcoats. Every woman seems to have one on - and not just any color too - only camel. Strange. 

Here are some highlights:

Controls to my hotel toilet 

Very large tuna fish heads at the market. Mom these are for you:

Sakura in full bloom

Fushimi-inari shrine in Kyoto and Lawrence.


Yesterday, I submitted my resignation email.  April 9th is going to be my last day working for Y-12 National Security Complex at Oak Ridge, TN.

After at least three-month of breather, probably I will find another consulting job.  But, not sure yet.  In the meantime, I am looking forward to travel with Rena and working on her addition project.

Monday, March 30, 2015


Nat and Dara are renting our basement starting in April, so all the misc things that we've been storing in the basement had to come out and up.  Sofas, coffee tables, ping-pong tables, fiberglass batting, random chairs and a queen sized bed - all moved upstairs.  I have good leg strength, but I have very poor arm strength.  Like a T-rex.  Fierce, but tiny-armed.

I'm having a tough time giving away stuff.  I have a beautiful coffee table - solid, wooden, a real piece of furniture - no one local wanted it on Facebook.  I took it to Goodwill, they didn't want it claiming it was damaged.  (Shocked!  I'm a frequent Goodwill-er and the coffee table would have met my standards.) So I guess I'm going to give it a go on Craigslist.

I love this sofa.  We bought it when we were first married and spent a crazy amount of money on it and I remember thinking on that day, I will never buy IKEA furniture again.  Oh, all the things I think to myself which are false.  Now I think, I will never buy furniture that isn't from IKEA ever again.


Jeremy left for Seattle on Sunday.  Now I get selfies of him in a suit in a park.


I went to Sunday night dinner with the kids minus Jeremy.  I learned about this delicious cheese called "sweet munchee".

Jane showed us this video of Lady Gaga doing a Sound of Music medley.

Sunday, March 29, 2015


This is Boba's mom, Thu.  She hosts a monthly potluck with a theme at her house.  This month's theme was local ingredients.  I love Thu and I love Boba. And I love the idea of these potlucks and I have a good time when I go, but I'm always a little intimidated.  Because I can't cook and because I can't really remember anyone's name, even though I've seen them three months in a row now.

See why this can be intimating to a non-cook?  Look at this - Thu made a dessert with cocoa meringue, fresh berries and mint. So to go to this party, I feel like I'm imposing on Jeremy to ask him to make something smashing and then I bring it (sometimes with him and sometimes without him) and then I fail to use anyone's first name.     Except for Boba.  I remember his name.  He remembers mine.

Also, another reason that I'm slightly intimidated.  I'm totally used to being out in public with Edda, I don't care that people slightly stare.  I don't care that sometimes she can laugh inappropriately or slobber slightly.  I can explain Edda to little inquiring children or large pleasantly inquiring adults and I can carry this all pretty lightly.  But in a party situation, were I don't know most of the people and it's just me and Edda - even when I know everyone is going to be totally friendly and accepting - I get a little extra anxious.  I'm already shy at parties (which I generally can overcome), but there is this extra shyness that comes from being with Edda.   Who do I talk to? And where do I put my body?  Can I leave Edda watching TV in her chair by herself?  If I need to sit next to Edda (which I feel I do), will someone sit next to me and chat?

Mom Invited Donald to Come Here for His Birthday. But, Japan Is Better, I Think

Yesterday morning, Mom showed me her iPad with Donald moving & talking in it while I was working on our yard.

He told us he is heading to Japan for vacation.  I guess Japan is also attractive to us even though I utterly dislike their approaches toward those years they invaded and brutalized China.

Just presents two examples here:

1) When their Prime Minister took a picture recently in front of one of their air force planes.  The series number on that plane happens to be 731 which is the notorious WW II cold-weather human lab code number in Harbin, China in which many nationals were experimented upon with horrible medical methods. Even today, that place is haunted because Rena and I have paid visit there.

2) The name of their recently launched helicopter carrier ship (~20,000 ton) is named after their flagship which was parked in Shanghai harbor and served as their invasion headquarters during WW II.

These can't be just coincident but rather sending messages toward all Chinese around the world - never forget to glorify their past, no matter how evil they were.

In short, though I pretty much admire Japanese accomplishments as a nation and considering myself far from a radical, Japan (in her current mentalities) is the only nation on earth that I am willing to fight against with all costs.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Bye Donald!

Donald is off to Japan for vacation for two weeks.  Lucky guy, gets to see the cherry blossoms in Japan!  I just get to imagine the cherry blossoms in DC around the tidal basin because I'm not going to go where there are swarms of people and no parking.  (Oh, maybe I am going to go downtown to the cherry blossoms.  We'll have guests in town.  I'll parallel park for visitors.) We were talking about a certain TED talk which advocates having this "power pose" (look up Ann Cuddy) to feel confident and ooze competence and so we both did our power posing and felt like we could take over the world for about thirty seconds.  OK, no really, we just both fell over laughing because, you know, it's silly to do power posing with your sibling over FaceTime.


Have you seen "The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" on Netflix?  It's funny.  Perfect for procrastinating which I am constantly doing.


For part of my psych class, I have to go to four different twelve-step meetings.  This week already, I've gone to Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and Overeaters Anonymous.  It's been a week of a lot of sharing.  I've said out loud the Lord's Prayer more this week than I have ever before in my life.

Japan bound!

See you guys in two weeks!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

I love.

It was a beautiful day in DC today.  It got to 70 degrees today Tomorrow it might snow!

Edda is still in her old (little) wheelchair.  Her regular (big) wheelchair is still broken.  The wheelchair selling/repair model is very much like a car manufacturer/car dealer model.  We buy the wheelchair from our local dealer and they repair it when we need it fixed.   Unfortunately, we've had trouble with our local dealership.  They are slow to return calls and emails.  Repairs take months to wind their way through insurance and then the repairs don't stick, the wheelchair breaks 3 months after the repair.  The dealer is located in Alexandria, VA, so I have to cross off hours of my day to make it down there and back.   Even though it's a hassle to get it repaired, I'm also mad at the manufacturer because the brakes keep breaking.  And once the brakes are broken, the bus ride is impossible.  They won't take Edda on the school bus with a wheelchair with no brakes.  Understandable.  One wouldn't want Edda wheeling around on a moving school bus.

I'm a little baffled by the whole thing because every other family I know that owns one of these wheelchair LOVES their chair (Well, as much as you can love a wheelchair.  Feelings are mixed about these things.  Always).

Finally, I called the manufacturer, Convaid.

Convaid said that I need to send it back to California.  Not me exactly.  I have to get our local dealer to send it back to California.  So I'm trying to figure out when I can take a half day off during business hours so I can drive to Virginia so I can watch them pack Edda's wheelchair in a box and address it to California.

I don't think that's going to happen because even after I've taken the time to drive to Alexandria and I'm standing in the office with a box, packing tape and a sharpie, I'm sure it will take 5 weeks to get insurance to pay to send the wheelchair to California.

Hmmm.  I'm a little grumpy these days, huh?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


Just me and the kids and the dogs for dinner tonight.  Jeremy was out of the house listening to a person who happened to be wearing a brass rat.  This Sunday, Jeremy will embark on the first of five business trips in the span of seven weeks, so there will be a lot of dinners with just me and the kids.  I'm trying not to think about it too deeply.  What could happen really?  We could eat fish sticks for seven weeks.  We'll be fine.  

Edda's teacher texted me this photo of Edda's birthday party at school.  Oh!  So sweet.

Yvonne (au pair when Edda was 3) texted us this photo of her enjoying pancakes all the way on the other side of the world.  One would have expected this photo to have been taken in Germany, but no, Yvonne was in Sydney on Edda's birthday!

Surnames of LEE (LI) and CHOU (ZHOU)

Rena's surname is Chou (Zhou) and my surname is Lee (Li).  In ancient China, there was a poem-like listing of hundred surnames ranking Lee and Chou the 5th and 6th most popular surnames in China, respectively.

Today, a new statistic listing becomes available which shows that Lee ranks first and is the most popular Chinese surname with 95,300,000 people and Chou is the 9th with 24,600,000.

I guess there are a lot of LEEs and CHOUs around :)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


Happy birthday Edda!

I got you some donuts for breakfast.  I told your birth story at dinner where there were some flowers and a delicious raspberry almond coffee cake.  You went bowling at school today.

I hope you had the happiest of days today.


Monday, March 23, 2015

Too much.

I returned the only thing we rented for Edda's birthday party - 30 chairs.  Now we own the tables, the griddle, the chafing dish, the sterno, the pancake batter dispenser, all the silverware and 17 ladles.


Three or four years ago, I planted about 10 crocus bulbs in the front yard.  I had visions of them spreading every year until they would cover the whole front yard.  They did not really spread, they remain 10 little clumps of four flowers (I guess every year, one gets one more flower).  It's like a little treasure hunt to find them poking out of the cold ground once winter loosens his grip.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Warm hearts.

Edda's pancake breakfast was held yesterday.  She's 11 this year and this is our third annual birthday bash.  Jeremy tallied the ingredients: 64 eggs, 8 pounds of butter, 22 pounds of bacon.  There was more, but I can't remember.

Jeremy invested in capital equipment this year and bought our own chafing dish.

Vince and his friends helped out to keep the coffee going.  My mother was the bacon-master. She cooked every strip of the 22 pounds of bacon that everyone ate.

It was wonderful.  It's nice to see so many people come by and hug us and hug Edda and wish her the happiest of birthdays.  I am so thankful for all the help and support.  Happy birthday Edda!  Pancakes ever more.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Edda's Birthday Party

Last night, I flew back from TN in order to attend Edda's Birthday Party this morning.

Today, Rena and I went to Doris' home around 8:00 AM for her Party from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM.  We needed to be their home earlier because Rena was going to help them to prepared beacons.

I volunteered to be the food taster for their first batch of pan cakes.  And it was delicious indeed.

Then I spent the whole afternoon to spread mulch on our yard.  It didn't finish yet and I will do again tomorrow.

Monday afternoon, Rena and I are going to fly out to the west coast and will be there until this Winter.

Friday, March 20, 2015


We met with Edda's teacher and school psychologist today to work on some (long) paperwork for Edda.  We paused to pledge our allegiance to the United States of America during the morning announcements.  Oh, an the lunch today was pizza - just FYI.

Monday, March 16, 2015


The city is repairing a main gas line that has been leaking for years in front of our house.  Up and down our street on most days, you can smell gas coming out from the ground.  I've had a neighbor call the gas company every week for a year complaining.  That complaining worked, the gas people were out on our street all the time trying to find and fix the leak.  They were never successful with their patching attempts.  It's an old pipe.  The whole thing needs to be replaced, but the money wasn't there.  The neighbor moved away and there hasn't been much action gas-repair-wise but you could still smell the gas.

A few weeks ago I got a letter in the mail warning us that the pipe was finally going to be fixed and that they were going to come and do stuff.  But - don't worry - said the letter.  We won't have to come into your house or anything.  So it wasn't until mid morning today that I realized that the "stuff" they were planning on doing included drilling a 1 foot diameter cylinder of concrete out of my driveway.   I hope they move that concrete plug from that little patch of dirt on the right.  I have some flowers there that are getting ready to see the sun, they are going to be confused when they run into a hard, flat, dark thing on their way out.  


I'm wearing all of Sylvia's old jewelry.  Only I'm not sure it's really her old jewelry.  I cleaned a bracelet last night with vinegar and baking soda.  Cool little gas bubbles formed on the surface of the silver bracelet.  Neat-o.


Gah.  I'm too busy.  I need to reassess.  Pull back on some things.  Re-prioritize.  Prioritize spending weekends hanging out with no to-do list.  I thought I pulled back from last fall and I did, but I didn't pull back enough.  When I started this nursing school thing, I was willing to work hard and Jeremy was able to do more home stuff.  Now his work stuff is really accelerating and I feel more of a call to pay more attention to home than outside.  A rebalancing is needed.  I have a plan for the summer and fall.  I just need to get through the next 6 weeks in good spirits.  Thanks for all your help...<3

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Rain, Rain and More Rain

It seems to me that here in Oak Ridge, TN - it rains all the time.  Since Monday, the rain never stops.  And today is Sunday.  It rains more than what has in Taiwan (a tropic island where I grew up). I have checked with a long-time Oak Ridge couple.  They told me that while they were here, not so much rain as described by me.  May be, global warming :(

Well, rain or shine, life goes on, on and on :)  Time to do some grocery shopping.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

3.14 day

I spent a long time today making pi to celebrate pi day.

It didn't gel!  Oh well.  Next year it'll be coconut.  I won't have to worry about fruit consistency.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Fixing Travel Gear Luggage

This luggage by "Travel Gear" has been with me for a long time.  Last time, Rena and I went to Costa Rica, this luggage was with us.  But, there, it developed a problem.  The handle was difficult to push-in and out. Without in-and-out function and with heavy stuffs inside, it is difficult to carry it round in the airport or in the hotel.

Two days ago, I was leaning to get a new one as its replacement.  But, it was quite expensive and I didn't want to be wasteful.  I decided to try to fix it instead.  Not like all those tools that I have in my garages, all I have is a small box of "emergency tool kit" in my car.  Of course, I have no trouble light with me either.  And with my poor apartment lights and my eye sight, it definitely added certain amount of degree of difficulties.

After took handle apart with great difficulty (no suitable tools), I found out the problem was with a broken plastic-push-bar (inside the handle) which could dislodge the click-lock on one side only, but not on both side.  I tired to buy this part online. But, no luck.

Finally, I took everything apart, and interchanged the push-handle on the broken bar side with click-lock sliding against the solid tube wall instead of the tube side with two stopping holes.  Then put them all back in its original places.  

It works wonderful with one side clicking.  No problem.  Pretty proud of myself, especially using simple tools that I have.

Monday, March 9, 2015

A thousand papercuts.

Edda's wheelchair is broken again.  Now it's the other brake.  I give up.  I cry uncle.  I might have just cried.

I even tried WD-40 and a hammer.  It did not budge.

Why me?  Why!?!  All of Edda's friends love their Convaids.  What is wrong with our Convaid?  Grrrrrrrrrr....

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Family birthday

Jeremy made chocolate peanut butter cupcakes.

Mom made the dinner which included eight treasure duck, beef stew with tofu and long-life noodles.  Duck head below:

Happy Birthday Vince, my teenager!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Vince's birthday party.

Vince had his birthday sleepover last night.  Seven boys vs. two parents.  The party met my goals: no crying, no fighting, nothing broken (both on the boys and for the house) and a happy Vince.  Vince has a nice group of friends that he's had for a long time.  It's a pleasure to watch them grow up.

Diet Coke geyser.

One can of shaving cream.

General mayhem.

Pizza cake (+ tater tots).

Cookies and cream cake.


Mountain Dew.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Mom Paid Someone to Shovel the Snow

What a change, excellent change - someone knocked the door to provide snow shoveling service and Mom said "okay".  

Mom has been a nice doing-everything-yourself lady, all the years of her life.  However, it is pleased to learn that she allowed someone to do the snow shoveling instead.  The starting point is always difficult.  After that, it has precedent to follow.  Rena, keep up with the excelletn change :)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Snow Day.

It snowed so much today.  School was cancelled.  School is cancelled tomorrow.  Everyone is trapped in the house - a little bored.  I can not shake this blue mood even though I'm trying.  I'm hoping it'll go away when spring comes next week.


Jeremy shoveled at least twice during the day.  He has this new shovel he's trying out - it kind of pushes the snow in front of it, so you never have to lift the shovel off of the ground.  But in order for it to work well, you can't let the snow get too deep.  Here he is admiring his handiwork from Edda's room.  We are out of salt, I'll have to remember to buy some next week to prep for next year's winter.  All the hardware stores have been wiped out of salt earlier this week from the freak rain/ice storm on Monday.

Freshly shoveled and still coming down.


Vince had to interview someone older than 75 years and he picked Gene.  Vince is learning about WWII, so he needed to interview someone who remembers what it was like in the 1940s.  Vince got a lot of information.  Gene likes to talk.


They were holding a book sale at Vince's school earlier this week.  I've read a bunch of young adult fiction over the past few years, some of them were really delightful (although I can't remember any of them) and I gave Vince some money and I told him to buy me a book he thought I would like.  Vince proposed a Grumpy Cat book, I told him absolutely not - not a Grumpy Cat book.

I said that he should image a novel that I might like and pick it out for me.  He got me this (tagline - Choose to lie.... or choose to die):

Not exactly something I would have picked out myself, but then I turned it around and noticed that the NYTimes said it was a page turner, so I guess I'll give it a go.  We'll see.


I'm behind on everything.  Except sleep and cookies, I'm fine on sleep and cookies.


Finally, Edda and I hanging out on the couch.  Watching TV.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015


Tomorrow at sunset starts Purim.  Normally Purim doesn't mean that much to me because I'm not Jewish, but my Jewish / caterer / Rett mom friend, Lauren, recently posted on The Food Jew her mother's beloved recipe for hamantaschen.  The grocery store was all out of Lauren's suggested filling of apricot and prune, so we made due with raspberry and prune/plum.  I took advantage of Nat's talent for baking and she tried out the recipe this afternoon.  So yummy!  I did burn the roof of my mouth when I ate one because I couldn't wait for the filling to fully cool.  They were a tiny bit overfilled, so some of them lost their triangle-ness, but we will try again tomorrow.


I found this old printed photo of Vince.  I'm getting all sentimental now that's he's about to be 13.  Was he ever really that little?

Monday, March 2, 2015

Winter will not end.

It rained all day on Sunday and all the water froze into a sheet of ice.  School was cancelled today.  Again.  The temperatures were going to get into the 40s today, so I sprinkled a generous amount of salt on the skating rink that was our driveway and I left the house at about noon and hoped for the best.  I did have to put some salt and sand behind the front wheels of the car to get some traction because the car spun its wheels a little trying to manage the slight uphillness of our driveway and I did fall on my ass while getting said salt and sand, but no matter, it would be fine when I got home.  As I came home after dark, I was hopeful.  All the driveways I passed were clear of ice!  Our driveway certainly must have melted itself.  Clearly I was in denial, our driveway is in shade most of the day.  Luck was not on my side today.  I came home and it was still an ice rink and now the temperatures had dropped below freezing.  So Vince and I scrapped the driveway.  Yes, Vince helped me in shorts and bedroom slippers.  Well until he didn't help me anymore which was less than 25% into the deicing project.  Somehow, now that he is certifiably bigger than me, can I feel more resentful that he doesn't do more physical labor for me?  I have a full grown teenager on my hands, he should be doing all the shoveling, icing, mowing and raking, right?  I gotta figure that out.

Sunday, March 1, 2015


We went to a party at Boba's house last night.  Remember Boba is my true love so I go out of my way to see him.  Boba's mom does hold monthly get togethers and potlucks for friends and the parties usually have a theme.  Saturday night's theme was "sesame seeds and lemon grass".  Boba's mom has the most talented cooking friends.  I think it was the best potluck I've ever gone to.  Vince had a particularly good time.  Since the resident kids in the house are 2 and 4 years old, all the other invited kids were of similar age.  Vince out-aged them by a decade and at some point had kids hanging off every limb and he was dressed up like Batman.  Jeremy met a neighbor of the hostess and learned that she had 10 chickens in her backyard.  He scored a dozen fresh eggs.  mmmm...